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Archive for November, 2011

Wonderland Creek by Lynn Austin, photo from www.lynnaustin.orgLynn Austin, author of several books including the Refiner’s Fire series and Wings of Refuge, has once again brought to life a heroine who grows in both faith and compassion in her newest novel, Wonderland Creek. Alice Ripley is a librarian, bookworm, and pastor’s daughter. She is also, honestly, more than a little self-centered. When her life is turned upside down by a Depression-precipitated layoff and a break-up with her boyfriend, Alice decides to leave her suburban Chicago home for a couple of weeks to deliver donated books to an impoverished former-coal-mining town in Kentucky. There, Alice comes to realize the value of real people, and because of the extension of her stay, plays a part in helping them, sometimes against her will! She also grows in character from a spoiled and shallow young woman to a capable and caring lady.

I really enjoyed the growth in maturity and faith of Alice represented in Wonderland Creek. She was very imperfect, almost painfully so, initially. Through the relationships she developed with the people of Acorn, Kentucky, Alice learned not only the value of hard work, but also the value of kinship, friendship, and having a real relationship with God.

The characterizations and setting were very well done throughout the book. The desolation of the defunct mining camp, the beauty and mystery of the hills, and the desperation and hope found in the town were all brought to vivid life. The characters, while maintaining their identifying traits, were far from one-dimensional. I really enjoyed the sub-plots that brought these characters to life.

The only aspect of the book I didn’t care for was the romance. Without giving away any spoilers (I hope!), I was disappointed in the lack of build-up and romantic tension between Alice and her eventual-beau. The end felt a bit tacked-on. As it stands, I could have done without the whole concept of that particular romance, leaving Alice hanging relationship-less, but not seeming to be hurting for the lack of it.

Four stars.

**I received this book free from Bethany House Publishing for review. My thoughts are my own.**

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