Monday, October 13, 2014

The Story Keeper - by Lisa Wingate

This was an amazing story that sucked me in and kept me turning the pages!  Jen Gibbs has just gotten her dream job at Vida House Publishing as an editor when she discovers an old manuscript on her desk.  She reads the few chapters it contains and becomes obsessed with the story of a Melungeon girl in danger and the young man from the Eastern United States who rescues her in Appalachia in the early 1900's.  She needs to find out what happened to them and hopefully sign the author to a book deal, but there is no author or address to contact.  The style seems familiar to her, however, so she risks her job and convinces the boss to send her to Appalachia in search of a reclusive author who hasn't written anything in years.

Once she arrives, she finds it almost impossible to contact the author as it's fan week in the area and there are tons of crazed fans lurking around the woods and trying to get a glimpse of their favorite author.  She meets some of his relatives and gets an introduction and finds her life becoming intertwined with his family troubles while she also struggles with whether to contact the family she fled when she was eighteen.  Her sister has written another letter asking for money for her kin, the father, siblings and their many children who live in extreme poverty.  Jen has struggled with not only feelings of worthlessness and shame, but also anger and confusion about who God is because of her family's allegiance to a cult that twists the Bible into a tool to control and subdue the members, especially the women.  She was able to escape because of a wonderful teacher who encouraged her, but she doesn't want to go back, even for a visit.  Could there be another reason for her being back in Appalachia, something more important than a book deal?

This was beautifully written and fascinating.  With chapters of the Melungeon girl's story scattered throughout the pages, it has interesting history and culture along with hints of romance then and now.  I loved seeing Jen trying to come to grips with who God is, what her family's like and trying not to get sucked back in to the hopelessness of her family dynamics.  It was hard to predict what would happen when she met the author and his family and I wondered how the story would get resolved.  There were a lot of interesting, quirky characters and the setting was absolutely gorgeous.  I can't wait for her next book!  She's becoming an author I watch out for.  I highly recommend this wonderful story!

I received this book free from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

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