Friday, March 2, 2012

Far From Here by Nicole Baart

Danica and Estelle had married young. He loved flying but it terrified her. They were full of love and dreams for the future and each thought the love would take them through whatever came. They formed their lives in northwest Iowa, he flying for his “adopted” mother, she owning a hair salon.
Eight years into their marriage, he has an opportunity to fly in Alaska and goes. Days later, Danica receives the dreaded phone call. Estelle is missing. Without results, the search is finally called off. Danica cannot stand not knowing. She has to go to Alaska to pursue looking for him. But what she finds there is not at all what she wanted.

Baart has created a well written novel of a young widow making her way through grief. Danica's memories flesh out the history of their early romance and years of marriage. Her sisters and quirky mother round out the process of grieving. Then there is the single pastor next door.
The plot unfolds as the story progresses. The reader becomes aware of issues just at the right time. And when the truth of what really happened in Alaska crashes into Danica, she must make a decision that will change her life forever.

I liked this novel. It grabbed me after a bit of a slow start and I felt compelled to continue reading. The way Baart wove the history of the relationship into the present was done well. Baart crafts her sentences with care. Reading her work was a pleasant experience.

A couple of things to think about, however, if you plan to read this novel.
First, the subject matter. I have a brother-in-law who flew for a lodge in Alaska, transporting hunters and supplies. This novel hit close to home. It could have described my sister's grieving. I am not sure she or any of her close friends could read this book. It would be just too painful.
Second, those who like to have the gospel presented somewhere in the novel will be sorely disappointed. The characters believe in God and have gone to church, but that is all. Even with the pastor next door, there is no talk of Jesus. God remains on the fringes of the story, never becoming a vital aspect of the mourning or healing processes. I like to see Christian fiction fill a role higher than entertainment and did not feel this novel rose to that level.

There is an extensive reading Group guide at the back of the novel, making this a possible choice for reading groups.

Nicole Baart was born and raised in a small town in Iowa. She and her husband have three young sons. You can find out more about her and read her blog at www.nicolebaart.com.

Howard Books (a division of Simon & Schuster), 340 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Howard Books for the purpose of this review.
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