Washington Territory, 1871
Anna Warren grew up on the seat of a wagon, the daughter of Seattle’s busiest freighter. After her father’s death—a tragedy away from home—she returns to their cabin on the outskirts of Seattle, seeking the sense of belonging that eluded her childhood. But will her desire to pray for miraculous healing for the sick and wounded endear or alienate her to the community? Her most aggravating challenger is also her staunchest defender and has brown hair and eyes, stands six feet tall, and farms with unchecked tenacity. Tristan Porter. This farmer her father had befriended holds more secrets than Yesler’s Mill holds logs.
When ugly rumors arise about her spiritual gift and her property, Anna fears her quest to find belonging will be thwarted.
Tristan holds the truth to set her free, but revealing it will require him to face the disappointments of his past and surrender his plans for the future—a sacrifice he’s not sure he can make.
Why This Book:
I first discovered Sondra’s writing when I happened upon her debut novel, One Plus One Equals Trouble. It turned out to be the first in her Love That Counts series and I eagerly awaited the next installment. After reading Two Ways Home, the second book in her Love That Counts series, I knew I’d found a new favorite author. So when I learned that Such A Hope would be releasing soon as part of a new series, I immediately added it to my TBR (to be read) list.
Then I attended the Asheville Christian Writer’s Conference and met someone who ACTUALLY KNEW SONDRA!!! I totally fangirled out! And if that wasn’t bad enough, you should have seen my silly grin the first time Sondra contacted me directly! Not only is Sondra a wonderful writer, she is a wonderful person whom I am honored to be getting to know.
I am so super excited to announce that my interview with Sondra will be next Monday’s post! If you haven’t already, be sure to subscribe to my blog so you won’t miss it!
All of that said, the following review is my sincere and honest opinion. Also, for the record, I purchased my own copy of this book.
Seattle, Washington Territory
Anna Warren breathed the crisp air that hinted of salt.
Such A Hope began with a sensory-filled description of Anna’s return to Seattle that pulled me back in time to the swiftly growing bayside city of 1871. Like a warm fire on a cold winter’s day, Sondra welcomed me into Anna’s world, letting me know exactly who this young woman was and what she hoped to achieve with her return. Things seemed to be moving along smoothly until Anna discovered a surprise waiting in her old cabin.
Anna – Despite the official blurb for this book, I don’t think it is exactly true to say that Anna “desires” to pray for healing. In fact, she spends much of the book almost dreading the next urge to do so. Not because she wishes people to remain ill, but because she dreads the reactions others will have to the miracle God may perform. Anna is clearly called to pray and she has an earnest heart to obey God and bless others, but she struggles with the worldly consequences of following God on a path few understand. Her sincere desire is for God’s glory, but obeying His call is far from easy for her and even interferes with some of her own goals for her life.
Tristan – Tristan’s traumatic past has clearly shaped much of who he is and what he does. It’s difficult to comment on his character without giving away too much. He is definitely an interesting hero with a unique character arc. Watching his choices and seeing how he grows was one of my favorite parts of the novel.
Emotional Engagement & Pacing of the Story:
Such a Hope is not a wild ride. There are definitely no gun fights, no fisticuffs, and no wild chases through the countryside. This just isn’t that kind of book and it doesn’t pretend to be. Yet there is danger. There are riled up crowds, abuses of power, and severe illness and injury. At its core, though, this book is all about the characters. As such, its true power is in the emotional depths to which it takes you. It is raw and it is real in ways few other books dare to be. Such a Hope made me cry, laugh out loud, and sigh in contentment.
Elements I especially liked/disliked:
I admire a novel which dares to include any sensitive topic which other books rarely include. Sondra Kraak does exactly this in Such a Hope by boldly creating a heroine who feels the calling to pray for healing. That said, I admit that even as a HUGE Sondra Kraak fan, I was rather nervous to read this book for exactly the reason that I admire it.
The topics of intercessory prayer and miraculous healing are not black and white issues, and are topics which can be quite divisive within the Christian community. I wasn’t sure how Sondra would handle these issues. Still, I was determined to give her a chance and I’m glad I did. Sondra doesn’t back away from this divisiveness but tackles it head on in her story in a way which I found refreshing.
These topics are not handled in a way which feels at all preachy. They are handled in a way that feels very personal and real to Anna and Tristan. Nor are they topics added in for the sake of themselves, but instead they are intrinsic to the story itself and to the internal journeys of both the main characters.
Such a Hope asks the reader to define true community. What does it mean to be part of a community and how should Christians behave in relation to one another, particularly with regard to theological differences or things we don’t completely understand? Such a Hope also addresses faith in the face of tragedy and suffering, as well as the struggles of discerning God’s purpose for our lives.
I thoroughly enjoyed the conclusion to Such a Hope. Unlike many other novels, the trouble doesn’t all come to a swift and tidy end, with every problem resolving at once. (Not that, when done well, those types of conclusions aren’t also enjoyable.) In Such a Hope, Sondra trickles in solutions here and there over the course of time, steadily moving everything along to the end of the story. That which can plausibly be wrapped up, is, but that which would realistically take more time to work out, is left to do so without the reader feeling at all unsatisfied. I especially loved the realistic denouement of the romance between Tristan and Anna.
Sondra has clearly done a ton of research in preparation for this novel and it shows in the details she sprinkles throughout the story.
5 out of 5 stars
Have you read any of Sondra Kraak’s books? What do you think of authors handling such sensitive topics?
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