Gabrielle is fifteen when her parents are killed in a tragic automobile accident. Her parents had designated in their will that she should be taken care of by her aunt and uncle. So Gabrielle is taken from her Chicago home to live on a ranch in North Dakota. The novel then takes us through about the next twelve years of Gabrielle's life.
I was not captured by this novel. Granted, it is youth fiction. That might account for the simplicity of the writing style. I had the feeling as I was reading this novel that I was reading about someone's life, not actually being invited to take part in the unfolding of that life. I never felt like I was right there with Gabrielle, experiencing her struggles and changes. The writing is uneven and at times I was just bored and, had I not agreed to review this book, I would not have finished it.
Themes in this coming of age story include the importance of music, both as an expression of emotion and as a tool for healing emotions. There is also a strong theme of forgiveness. While most of the characters are strong Christians with faith essential to the novel, there is one character who is not and he swears once. It surprised me to see that in a youth novel, but the expression fit the scene and I was not offended.
Laurel Woiwode is a graduate of Jamestown College, earning BAs in English and History. She works with ESL students, writes movie reviews, and works on writing and editing projects. She grew up in rural North Dakota. This, I think, is her first novel.
Crossway, 176 pages.
I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.