"Have I not commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest."
-Joshua 1:9 (KJV)
It has been a while (I won't say how long) since I wrote my last book review. I don't know why I never blogged about this book; I guess I sat it on my bookshelf and forgot all about it. I finished reading it a really long time ago, though. I would like to personally apologize to the publishers about how long it took. It is one of my New Year's resolutions to review more books this year than ever (which may or may not be possible, given I have the ACT and college applications to do this year). I need to work on my deadlines if I want to study journalism at the end of next year.
So, on that note, let's get started on this review!
The first thing I will say is that this was a very, very good book. I only wish I could have read the first book in the series. So, before I start, I must say that I highly recommend this book.
Though My Heart is Torn by Joanne Bischof is Book Two of the Cadence of Grace book series, and the year is 1901. Settling into a simple life in the majestic Blue Ridge mountains, Lonnie and Gideon O’Riley have finally found happiness after the rocky start to their marriage. The roguish bluegrass musician has fallen in love with his gentle wife and the God she serves, and Lonnie rests secure in his tenderness for her and their young son. A heartless ruse interrupts their peace, bringing them back to Rocky Knob—and forces them to face the claims of Cassie Allan, a woman who says she is Gideon’s rightful wife. As Gideon wades into the depths of his past choices, Lonnie is stunned by the revelations. She has no choice but to navigate this new path, knowing that surviving the devastating blow will take every ounce of strength she has. While Gideon’s guilt and his bitterness towards Cassie threatens to burn up his fledgling faith, Lonnie wrestles to find the courage to trust the God who brought them together in the first place. Will their hard-earned love be able to conquer all?
Lonnie only wanted her husband’s love. Now that he belongs to another, can she surrender Gideon to a God with a bigger plan?
When I read the description above, I was really confused at first. I mean, who marries two women and doesn't know it, right? How is it even possible? It just didn't make sense to me at first. However, after getting through the first five chapters or so, I understood that (this is not a spoiler, I promise) Gideon thought he and Cassie divorced, but someone didn't turn in the paperwork. And so the craziness begins.
This book exceeded my expectations-- it's not your average Christian historical romance, and it's definitely not only for happily-married-housewives. I, being fourteen years old at the time (I told you I read this a long time ago), absolutely fell in love with this book-- I could barely put it down! I recommend it to anyone with at least a seventh-grade reading level. Whether you're a Christian or not, into romance or not, a fan of Appalachian stories or not, you'll love it. Believe me, I usually don't read books like this unless "Cindy Woodsmall" is written in big letters on the front cover. But, Joanne Bischof has proven to be another storyteller I like.
One of the major plus sides of this novel was the character development. We see both Cassie and Gideon grow from being pretty immature to acting like very mature adults. Let's take Cassie for instance. Here are a few quotes about her from the beginning of the book:
"Her brown hair was stuffed into a tidy knot at the nape of her neck, hints of unruly curls tugging free. A glance into her eyes confirmed the trait ran deeper than appearances. Yes, unruly was the word. If only his daughter were as cunning."
"The young woman rolled her eyes, the wayward motion tipping Joel's head back. If she were his daughter, he'd smack the look off her face."
"She was not Lonnie. She couldn't begin to guess what was so great about the woman. Lonnie was so... plain. Cassie fiddled with her locket, running it up one side of its chain. She knew a thing or two about getting Gideon's attention. If Lonnie Sawyer could do it, for heaven's sake, she could too."
"There wasn't an innocent bone in Cassie Allan's body. She and Gideon were cut from the same cloth."
So, for the first half of the book, she's hardly likable. But, she changes. I'll spoil the book for you if I say why or how, but she changes. The character development is perfectly paced.
Another thing I liked had absolutely nothing to do with the writing, but with the fact that the paperback form of this book with the rough-edged pages just felt so comfortable in my hands! And it smelled good. My hands are easily pained by books with 300+ pages, but this one felt nice.
I also liked how the book wasn't all-in-your-face about the scriptures. The book helped me learn a lesson about the situation on my own, rather than just shoving some verses at me and expecting me to get something out of it. It used scripture only when it was most relevant.
Now, one thing I didn't like that much was Lonnnie's storyline throughout the book. It wasn't bad, but it felt kind of bland compared to Gideon's situation. I would find myself skimming through her sections sometimes; although they were pretty interesting, it didn't quite match up with the other action going on.
This book includes an Author's Note and Reader's Guide, so it's perfect for book groups!
Hope gives it four and a half stars! No-- 4.7! 4.999!
P.S. Special thanks to the publisher, WaterBrook Press, for giving this book to me for reviewing purposes. All opinions expressed are my own.