Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Review: Angel Sister

Angel Sister by Ann H. Gabhart

Publication Date: February 2011
Publisher: Baker Publishing Group/Revell Books
Genre: Christian Fiction/Historical
ISBN-13: 9780800733810

(Received for review from Revell Books)

Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound

Ann H. Gabhart on the WEB: Website, Blog, Facebook, Twitter

Excerpt from Angel Sister

Synopsis (Book Blurb):

It is 1936 and Kate Merritt works hard to keep her family together. Her father has slipped into alcoholism, her mother is trying to come to grips with their dire financial situation, and her sisters seem to remain blissfully oblivious to all of it. Kate could never have imagined that a dirty, abandoned little girl named Lorena Birdsong would be just what her family needs.

In this richly textured novel, award-winning author Ann H. Gabhart reveals the power of true love, the freedom of forgiveness, and the strength to persevere through troubled times, all against the backdrop of a sultry Kentucky summer.


Ann H. Gabhart, well known for her Shaker series books, brings a new set of characters to life in her latest book, Angel Sister. Set during The Great Depression in a small, rural Kentucky community, this novel examines the affects of war on those who fought and those who were left waiting for them to return. Gabhart's fans and new readers alike will be spellbound by this heartwarming story about the power of love and forgiveness.

Victor Merritt returned home from WWI a different man. The fighting changed him somehow and he fights desperately to get back to a normal and safe place in his life. Suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, he self-medicates heavily with alcohol to stop the nightmares that plague him. His wife Nadine must come to grips with Victor's problems and the financial situation she finds her family in. Victor, the son of the most powerful man in town has never been able to live up to the expectations of his father, not in his career choice, as a blacksmith or with his family. Nadine has lived under the scrutiny of her preacher father, all her life and now she is unable to get over the past enough to ask him for help. All the while Victor and Nadine's middle daughter, Kate is left to hold the family together. When she finds a little girl on the church steps and the family takes her in as one of their own, difficult choices have to be made and the power love and forgiveness is the only thing that can save them.

This novel is a very emotional read. The main characters of the book are struggling with some very deep rooted issues, from Victor's feelings of failure to Nadine's struggle with the loss of her first child. When Lenora Birdsong enters the picture, she breathes new life into a family that is teetering on the edge of disaster. Through this one little girl the members of the family start to see beyond their own problems and into the heart of a child. I thought the author did an excellent job of portraying what would have happened to a child who was abandoned during this time in history. The circumstances would be very different today and readers will find it hard not to wish there was a better way to help Lenora.

The emotions are very intense and the characters themselves are deep. Nadine is a character that a lot of women will identify with. She has always had problems with her father, the preacher and felt that the community was judging her. Now that Victor is obviously having problems with alcohol, the stigma of not being good enough is even stronger for Nadine. One of the things that I really liked about her character was the fact that no matter what happened she stood by Victor and her love for him remained in spite of the stress he put on the relationship, she endured and that takes a lot of strength and courage.

Victor's condition is treatable now, but in those days they had no idea what to do with someone who couldn't quite get past what happened to him in combat. Not only that, but his relationship with his father and feelings of failure plagued him throughout the book, but he still managed to try to lead his family in the right direction. Victor has to come to grips with the past and figure how to move on and he somehow finds the will to go through faith in God and the love of one little girl. It's amazing to me how life can change in a split second and how one person or in this case one child can completely upend your life.

I really enjoyed this novel and I think Christian Fiction readers will be enthralled with this family that is so hard hit by the affects of War. It is something that doesn't just go away when a soldier returns from combat and Gabhart did a wonderful job of showing that to readers. The book was also set in Kentucky which is where I am from and I always enjoy seeing how this area is portrayed in novels. I felt the author had a wonderful sense of community and understanding of a small rural town and the complexities of it. Gabhart used experiences and stories she grew up with to craft this book and it really shows in the spirit of the novel. It is a great historical and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to read a great book with lots of history and a deep meaningful plot. Faith, forgiveness and the power of love makes this one a must read.

Available February 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

Ann H. Gabhart is the author of several novels, including, The Outsider, The Believer, and The Seeker. Angel Sister is inspired in part by the many stories her mother and three aunts told her of growing up in small-town Kentucky during the 1930's.