Thursday, June 01, 2006
Kim Vogel Sawyer's Waiting For Summer's Return~Reviewed
Waiting For Summer's Return
By Kim Vogel Sawyer
Published by Bethany House
All alone on the Kansas prairie, Summer Steadman has few options. With her husband and children lost to illness, she has no desire to continue on farther west to where she and her husband planned to build their future. Instead, she seeks employment in a small Mennonite community in order to be near the graves of her family.
Widower Peter Ollenburger, the local gristmill owner, needs someone to teach his young son. When he hears of a "learned woman" in town, he believes she is the answer to his prayers. He soon discovers, however, that helping this outsider may have troublesome consequences.
From the first page to the last, Sawyer's ability as a word weaver captured me and immersed me in the world she creates. With an obvious gift for story-telling, none of her characters are stereotype or predictable. The grossmutter's slow acceptance of Summer rang true with none of the expected shenanigans. The boy, Thomas, watched his new teacher with a child's curiosity and the wary prejudice of the sect's teachings about outsiders. Sawyer portrays him with insight, making him come alive.
The Mennonites within the community who don't want Summer in their midst are not over-written, but presented with an honesty that displays their tribulations and traditions. I found the evolution of Summer's faith to be guileless, without preaching or manipulation. I applaud Sawyer for not detailing the conversion of Summer's mother-in-law which in this reviewer's humble opinion, kept it from being too tidy a package.
We've all heard the words before, but in this case they're true. The character's literally lodge themselves in the reader's heart. Tender and poignant, this book receives a high recommendation.
Reviewed by Ane Mulligan