My Story with This Book: This was a book club read, chosen by another book club member. The author is local.

Author: Cher L. Tom

Rating: 3/5 — Mostly Good

Genres: Christian Fiction; Novella; Christian Romance; Historical Fiction

Synopsis: A young woman, Rietta, travels west to Jackson (now known as Jacksonville), Oregon, to marry her fiancé, who has been building a homestead for them. Upon her arrival, however, she discovers that he has passed away while she was traveling, though he has left his meager land, on which is a mill and a tiny cabin. Rietta makes her own way as a single woman in the west, and finds friends along the way who help her to build a new life.

Response: I felt that this story had much potential and a good start. I connected with the characters and thought the premise was promising. The application of those ingredients fell flat, however. There were multiple grammatical errors and typos (such as missing punctuation and misspelled words), which I would expect from a first-time novelist handing me her rough draft to look over… But the author (supposedly) majored in English Lit and Journalism in college, and went through the trouble of printing books (which is not cheap!). If I were to pay for a book to be printed, I would want at least a few people to go over it to check for those kinds of obvious mistakes.

Also, because of the length, it left much to be desired. There were many gaps in the story where things were glossed over or assumed instead of shown to the reader through action or detailed description. While the ending was a desired outcome (her choice of love interest) and was what I would assume would happen from early on, there wasn’t much meat to back it up or to help me connect with that particular plotline. I feel like I’m being generous by giving it a 3, but I try to reserve 2’s for those which I don’t even enjoy reading, or have a hard time sticking with; this one was enjoyable, but it needs quite a bit of work.

Content: Very clean; what you’d expect from a Christian “prairie romance”.

Theology: Not overtly discussed, but would be categorized as broad Christianity (no specific denomination or doctrine pressed).

Where to find it: Currently not in print (I received an “advanced copy” through the friend who recommended it for our club, who knows the author’s parents). You can watch for it on Amazon here.