Karen Barnetts novel, Out of the Ruins, grips the reader from page one. Her exciting story meshes the horror of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and its subsequent fire with a tender love story. Her characters grip readers hearts as they grapple with despair, disillusionment, and regret in the face of disaster and failure. Barnett weaves the momentous historical event together with fascinating bits of medical details from the first decade of the Twentieth century to create a setting that sets the heart pounding and reveals truth about God. I rejoice in the hope I gleaned from this historical novel. God is with us during the bad times as well as the good. Although the characters are fictional, the truths they reveal are real and applicable to the present.
Every so often I read a book in which I leave its pages with a desire to learn more of that subject and time in history. With Out of the Ruins, Karen Barnett, has made me go on a hunt to find more books, photographs, and film footage of this catastrophic period in the history of San Francisco, California. What a fascinating novel!
In Out of the Ruins, Abby Fischers family has to relocate to San Francisco because of her sisters need for a hospital, good doctors, and a cure for her cancer. Dr. Robert King has been studying the new X-ray treatment and wants to experiment on Abbys sister. If this works, doctors wish to try this on other kinds of cancer as well.
Abby is a nice enough heroine. I liked that she wasnt supposed to be beautiful and had her share of awkward moments. These moments created some light-hearted scenes in an otherwise serious, somber book. I admired the authors portrayal of the relationship between Abby and her siblings. Even though Abby is quiet (most of the time) and not a social butterfly like her sister, they are best friends. Each sister has something to offer. Abby doesnt make friends easily. Where she does love, she loves fiercely and feels deeply. She adores her little brother and I did too. Karen Barnett did a wonderful job writing a four year old. He didnt talk way above his age level, try to match-make, and take up unnecessary page space. This boy was just right.
The hero, Robert, is good. Um....Im not certain what else to say about him. The novel concentrated more on his occupation and dedication than on his personality. We dont read much about his likes and dislikes, background or habits. He was there to be the hero and doctor. It was fascinating to read about the X-ray treatment he was using. I love learning little things like that about history. Things havent changed that much. They were trying to cure cancer back then and are still doing so now!
A romantic relationship is always an important part of fiction. Abby and Robert have a romance, but its not a major part of this work. Usually, I want more romance in a novel. In this case I was so blown away by the history plot that a lot more romance would have been contrived and out of place. I do wish there would have been a couple more chapters that would have shown a the couple in love and relaxed after all the problems have been settled. We need more peace afer all the drama.
Out of the Ruins has us walking with Abby and her family through some very dark, tough waters of sickness, grief, loneliness, and finally, the earthquake and Great Fire of San Francisco. Karen Barnett writes with sympathy and understanding, while not shying away from the harsh realities. Through all of these problems, Abby has to learn to trust God and surrender her will to Him. The author brings out some wonderful truths about Gods love and control in difficult circumstances.
Karen Barnetts story had me on the edge of my seat. After walking, grieving, and sympathizing with these characters we are confronted with unfathomable catastrophes! I love the way the author wrote the second-half of the book in real-time. One could feel the panic and taste the fear of these people during the earthquake and fire. Hour by hour we are accompanying Abby and/or Robert in their aid of others and their search for escape.
After closing this book I want to find more information about the Great Fire of San Francisco and look forward to reading book two in this series.
Abby Fischer has only one desire in life - to see her sister, Cecelia, well again. When an experimental treatment is suggested, Abby tells God she'll do anything if He will only save Cecelia's life, otherwise she won't speak with Him ever again.
Dr. Robert King is consumed with his research, and trying to make a breakthrough with his new remedy for cancer patients. He has set his beliefs in God on a shelf in favor of his knowledge of science.
Set in the backdrop of San Francisco, California before the historic earthquake in 1906, Out of the Ruins is a soul-searching tale of death and loss, hope and faith. Karen Barnett has developed a gripping tale of God's faithfulness through fire and flames.
This book was provided free for review by Abingdon Press.
The stranger reached up his hand to assist her on the last step to the earth. "I supposed I should apologize for frightening you."
Abby plucked a twig from her apron. "You surprised me." She regretted not taking time to fix her hair before leaving the house. Or put on a hat. What must he think?
A crooked smile crossed the man's face. "Well, then we're even, because no one ever told me girls grew on trees here in California. If I'd known, I might have gone into farming instead of medicine."
That small excerpt was a more light-hearted scene in this book and one of my favorites. One of the most touching scenes was just prior to this one. Abby's sister, Cecelia, is dying and has just asked Abby to pray for her despite her broken relationship with God. Abby agrees and climbs a tree in the orchard to pour her heart out to God. Abby said, "God, save her. I'll do anything--anything you want." There is so much passion in that statement. I closed my eyes and I could imagine Abby's reluctance to speak to a God that seems indifferent but I could also feel her pain and heartbreak at wanting nothing more than for Him to answer her prayer and save her sister. That is a scene that spoke to the very heart of me as a sister. The love of sisters runs deep and it was captured beautifully in this book.
Abby Fischer is a lively young lady that always feels like she pales in comparison to her sister. She dresses in drab clothes because she feels that pretty clothes would be wasted on her and her relationship with God is almost nonexistent. But she is lively and has spunk and determination and I loved her. It's easy to see why she's my favorite character in this book. Dr. Robert King was Abby's cousin's new apprentice. When every doctor gave up on Cecelia, Robert brought hope with a new experimental treatment. And, despite how Abby saw herself in her own eyes, Robert only had eyes for her from the first time they met. The chemistry and budding feelings between the two was beautiful.
Things take a tragic turn and Abby's heart is shattered. She doesn't think her heart can take much more when the San Francisco earthquake destroys the city. Abby has to trust the very One she feels has turned a deaf ear in the past and its something Abby struggles with greatly.
This book was so well written. It's plain to see the amount of research that went into it, from the experimental treatment to the devastation of the earthquake, because it's so rich in historical detail. I love this time period with the newly made automobiles puttering down the streets. San Francisco in 1905 was portrayed so beautifully until the time of the earthquake where the destruction of the city was palpable. It came alive with every stroke of Karen's fingers on the keyboard. It's a story of love, hope, family and faith, a story of reconciliation. It's not often that a story hooks me from the very first page but this one hooked me like a fish. It gives us hope. A hope that, no matter the devastation we are going through, there are brighter days ahead. Beauty amid the ruins of our lives. It will speak to your very soul and leave footprints on your heart. It's pure gold in black and white. I hadn't read anything by Karen Barnett before but she is definitely on my list of favorites now. I'll be looking for future books from her, such as book two in The Golden Gate Chronicles, and waiting impatiently. If you love historical fiction, you'll love Out of the Ruins! I most highly recommend it!
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for my honest review and no monetary compensation was received.
Karen Barnett in her new book, "Out Of The Ruins" Book One in The Golden Gate Chronicles series published by Abingdon Press takes us into the life of Abby Fischer.
From the back cover: "God, save her. I'll do anything. Just make her better. And You'd better be listening, God, because if You dare take her away . . . I'll never speak to You again."
Abby Fischer doesn't know if God will answer her prayer for her dying sister. She doesn't know if miracles really happen. And she certainly doesn't know if the handsome Dr. Robert King, with his risky experimental treatment, is the one to remedy her doubts. When tragedy strikes and the mighty San Francisco earthquake shatters what is left of her heart, Abby wonders if God will hear her as she flees alone through burning streets. What will it take to show her that the One she doesn't want to love is the One whose love will save her?
A shaky prayer. A shattered faith. A city in ruins. Whatâ€”or whoâ€”will bring Abby back to God?
When you have historical fiction I am right there because I enjoy history. When you mention the Great San Francisco Earthquake I am hooked. That was an epic disaster that showed the heroism of the people after the devastation as they worked together to heal and rebuild that city. Ms. Barnett gets it! Against this backdrop she brings us Abby and Robert, two highly emotionally wounded individuals who need a fresh dose of God and each other. When you take these wounded main characters and spotlight them against the wounded city you are in for a story that you, simply, are not going to want to put down. Do not start this book late at night because it will cost you sleep as you will keep flipping pages as fast as you can read. On top of everything "Out Of The Ruins" is a wonderful romance. Ms. Barnett does an outstanding job of bringing her characters to life and you really want them to heal and to succeed. I am already looking forward to the next book in this series.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from LitFuse Publicity for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."