Jen Gibbs is a successful editor at Vida House publishing in New York. She has just taken this job and is looking forward to continued success. A manuscript mysteriously appears on her desk that she tries not to read, but cannot keep herself from looking at it. It is twenty years old and she is certain that it comes from the slush mountain, a huge pile of unsolicited manuscripts that are destined never to be published. As she begins to read, she becomes aware that it is from the Appalachian Mountains that she was raised in and called home until she went to college. As she is drawn into the story, only eight chapters are in the manila envelope with no authors name, she feels compelled to find the author and read the rest of the book and possibly get it published. She makes a convincing plea to her boss, the intrepid George Vida. Off she goes to the mountains, perilously close to her hometown where her family still lives. She is in pursuit of just a few minutes of time with the man whom she believes to be the author of the novel. The ensuing happenings that take place during her stay are the meat of the story. The Story Keeper is filled with the connection between her past and the history of the characters in the manuscript. Jen is pulled into the story of Sarra, a mixed-race Melungeon girl and Rand Champlain, the preacher who takes her safety to heart, which is also the heart of the story. It was difficult for me to get into this book at the start. It is an interweaving of the old manuscript and Jens modern day story. The Blue Ridge dialect was difficult for me to read and understand. I felt myself losing interest since I was not getting the full meaning from the parts with the dialect in them. The hook came for me several chapters in when the story became personal for Jen. As I read on, the dialect became easier and the writing more compelling so that, by the end of the book I was thoroughly involved and ended the story with a lump in my throat. An excellent story, well told was my reward for staying with it. Lisa Wingate has also given us a profound glimpse into the lives of the Appalachian people. I give The Story Keeper four stars!
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher Tyndale, in exchange for my honest review. These words are my opinion.
I just discovered Lisa Wingate's books earlier this year. My goodness, what a talented author she is. In The Story Keeper, Lisa is able to weave a story that pulls at you and brings you into the story to not only follow along, but to join in and wonder what the characters are going to do and how things will play out.
The Story Keeper was such a unique story. Like the previous book I read, The Story Keeper takes the contemporary and mixes it with the past. The pacing of the story was perfect and it flowed effortlessly from past to present and it tied the two periods together beautifully.
Jen Gibbs is a girl who knows what she wants and she fights for it. It's what her new boss likes about her. She is willing to take risks that need to be taken to land the prized book deals. Jen has done so much to move ahead in her life, while pushing the past as far back as she can. It is not a time she wants to go back to. However, her ideas are set aside when a old manuscript calls to her. It grabs a hold of her and doesn't let her go. And sadly, the manuscript only contains the first three chapters, and she is desperate to know how the story will end. And to find it out, she is sent within a few miles of her old home and a place that holds a lot of unhappy memories and is forced to face her past head on while dealing with issues of the present.
The setting of this book is so unique. We follow Jen in the present and then switch outlooks when she dives into the pages of The Story Keeper with Sarra and Rand...but as she dives further in, she winds up in a sci-fi convention of sorts that is going on in the small town, that is based on a series of books (which by the way sound like they would be fantastic to read). The way that each of these aspects are woven together makes the story flow and offer a fun setting.
There is so much to this story and many characters dealing with real life issues that anyone can relate to in some way. Whether it is personally or through a friend. It is also a story of how your past can shape who you become. Whether you stick closely to what you have been taught, or you desire to flee as far from it as possible. Your past is always going to be there, it's what you make of it is how it will define you.
Thank you to the Tyndale Blog Network, I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review.
Lisa Wingate with her awesome God-given talent has produced another winner! In her new book, The Story Keeper, she transports her readers from Appalachia at the turn of the century to Appalachia today through the life of Jen Gibbs. Jen, in her job as an editor for Vida House Publishing, is pursuing the author of a twenty year old manuscript that has mysteriously appeared on her desk. Her quest plunges her back into the Blue Ridge Mountains, a place from which she thought she had escaped. She is forced to deal with family issues as she confronts a reluctant writer that she suspects is the author of her manuscript. It is a story of great courage and hope. Lisa has the ability to make her readers feel like they are living the story along with her characters. You wont be able to put this story down once you have started reading! You wont want the book to end!
An astonishing combination of character and story; astounding in its depth and exhilarating at its height.
When talented editor Jen Gibbs lands her dream job at the small, but elite New York based Vida House Publishing, she is eager to continue a successful career. Mysteriously, an unidentified manuscript appears on her desk; suspiciously retrieved from the famed, but forbidden "Slush Mountain"; a towering pile of unpublished rejections from decades of want-to-be-writers. This particular 1889 story is quite compelling; chronicling the story of a young, terrified, mistreated Melungeon girl, named Sarra and her chance encounter with a handsome, well-bred Charleston native, Rand Champion. Rand has spent months documenting indigenous trees and plants through-out the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina when he inadvertently becomes Sarra's rescuer from a violent existence.
Jen realizes that she might possibly be able to trace this story's authorship back to the enigmatic, reclusive author of the famed "Time Shifters" series that she read as a child. Her boss agrees, and she finds herself headed back to the very mountains that she so desperately fought to escape. When she arrives, she must not only face Ethan Hall, who guards his privacy behind the gated fortress of his privately owned mountain, but her conscience demands that she also visit her family; who are still living their poverty-stricken existence within the binds of a harsh, ultra-conservative heretical church community.
As Sarra and Rand's story continues to develop; Jen and Ethan must come to terms with their own; discovering that the God who created them has never left them, and it is His story that will entwine itself among the generations to come. We are only His "story-keepers".
Here are just a couple of my favorite quotes from this wonderful book. "The truth was, I (Jen) yearned, in a soul-deep way, to be Sarra. To feel that God was so very close, so very concerned with my particular life, so very ready to protect and to love. Always nearby. Always listening. Always leading."
"Events like these hinted, sometimes shouted, that the God of my (Jen's) childhood and Lane's HIll, the threatening figure who scorned me and despised me because of my mother's sinful nature, might instead be a God of both purpose and provision. That he might have been looking after me all these years, laying down a path while I worked to convince myself that I was going my own way."
In the end, "The Story Keeper" maintains an intricate balance of past and present, when merged; completes not only one story, but two and is a masterful display from a very talented author.
Let's see if I can reign in my thoughts so that I can keep this somewhat short and sweet and share a little of what I think about this masterfully written book. Yes, Lisa Wingate has done it again - she has written a book that literally captures the reader. This book will capture your heart, your thoughts, your complete attention and will have the reader wanting more from two special characters: Jen and Sarra.
Jen's life story is. . .special and yet heart-wrenching at the same time. She did not always have it easy in life and had to live with a family that was hard on her and did not outwardly show love. She was influenced by a precious woman, Wilda, who taught her what love is and to not be afraid to chase her dreams in life. Jen's story will touch anyone's life ". . .and remember that no matter how many wrong choices we've madenin the past, we can always decide to make the right ones today. The past need not determine one moment of the future." -(pg.77)
I cried in a few chapters and laughed in many others. The author, Lisa Wingate, does an amazing job of keeping joy and laughter among the heartache. Jen has a dog named Friday who had me in stitches! On my very first night of reading the book I was laughing a good belly laugh over Friday's antics. Friday became a beloved character in my eyes.
Sarra's story was just as touching and during the time I read the book I eagerly looked forward to reading parts of her life while reading abut Jen's. It's a win-win situation with two stories in one book - they are both incredible! Sarra inspired me with her courage and strength for she is a woman that has seen the ugliness of life and continues to live with a love and passion for her Savior. Sarra's grandmother told her, "All breath in ever'thing been given by Father God, Granddaughter. Not a one He ain't mindful a. All lives be mattersome to Him. Not a one oughtn't to be a mattersome to us, same way." -(pg. 198)
A beautiful story that will hold you within its grasp even after the last page is turned. Lisa Wingate is a remarkable author who knows how to write a book that inspires, challenges, and encourages the reader. Don't miss out on this book, dear friends, for it's definitely one worth reading over and over.
** I was given a free copy of this book from Tyndale Publishers for an honest review. All thoughts are my own. No other compensation was received. **