Thursday, January 12, 2006

B.J. Hoff's, A Distant Music

By B.J. Hoff
Harvest House Publishers
ISBN: 978-0-7369-1404-8
300 pages

Reviewed by Vennessa Ng:

Picking up a B.J. Hoff novel guarantees that you will be transported into another time filled with captivating characters. Book #1 of the new Mountain Song Legacy series, A DISTANT MUSIC, is no exception.

Ever since the publication of her novella, THE PENNY WHISTLE, readers have asked B.J. for more of the story. With A DISTANT MUSIC, B.J. delivers the first installment, and it’s a novel that will tug at your heart and fill you with hope.

Skingle Creek in the late 1800’s is a small coal mining community whose inhabitants have little of the ‘extras’ in life. But it is also a community where people genuinely care for one another and are willing to sacrifice what little they have to help those in need.

It comes as little surprise then when Maggie MacAuley turns to those around her in a desperate attempt to save their schoolteacher, Jonathan Stuart. Ever since Mr. Stuart’s flute has gone missing, he has grown sicker and weaker by the day. With the help of her classmates, Maggie hatches a plan to bring music back into their teacher’s life, and hopefully renew his strength. But will the desperate plight of Widow Hunnicutt and the Crawford family put an end to Maggie’s plan?

It seems to Maggie that God has lost interest in the good people around her. Not only is her teacher fading away, but her best friend, the ailing Summer Rankin, is also waning by the day, spending more time in bed than at school. Then there is the matter of Kenny Tallman and the class bullies. In Kenny’s attempt to save Maggie from a beating, Kenny puts up with the abuse from the bullies and swears Maggie to secrecy. But just how long will his heroism continue to protect her?

Maggie struggles to understand how God can know about everything and care about it all when those around her struggle with ill health, hunger, and bullies. How can a loving God let bad things happen to good people?

B.J. Hoff’s gift of bringing characters to life shines in A DISTANT MUSIC. I found myself drawn into Maggie MacAuley’s troubles and shed more than a tear or two with her.

A DISTANT MUSIC is an enchanting read that touches the heart. Once more B.J. proves that when it comes to the historical voice, she is the master. B.J. tells us that this is the just the beginning, with more to come. I, for one, am eagerly awaiting the rest of the Mountain Song Legacy.

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