5 Stars Out Of 5
Riveting drama of corporate greed and family relationships
February 22, 2015
With its expressive prose, rich characterization, and compelling storyline, Where Rivers Part by Kellie Coates Gilbert is an exquisite novel on many levels, and I highly recommend it, particularly to all who enjoy contemporary drama or women's fiction. With her debut novel, Mother of Pearl, followed by the first Texas Gold novel, A Woman of Fortune, Kellie cemented her place as a writer of quality. For my reading tastes, Kellie Coates Gilbert is in the top tier of authors who write contemporary Christian fiction, and she can hold her own with any writer that I've come across in the general market.
With deft writing that easily captures and holds the reader's attention, Kellie uses her knowledge of the legal system to unfold a "ripped from the headlines" type of story, evocative of John Grisham at times, and creates a vivid sense of the San Antonio setting. Where Rivers Part combines themes of corporate scandal and greed with emotional family drama, broken and restored relationships - and asks the question, Success at what price? One might think that the technical aspect of foodborne illness, food safety regulations, and ethics could be difficult to follow, but Kellie made this part fascinating and easy to understand. I doubt readers will be able to pick up a bottle of water without thinking of this riveting story.
Juliet is a realistically flawed and complex character who grows both spiritually and emotionally - but often the hard way as a result of bitterness, unforgiveness, bad choices, and misplaced trust. One particular scene, where Juliet is treated to dinner at an exclusive restaurant and fed empty promises, made me think of Eve in the Garden of Eden and how easy it is to fall into temptation's trap. I admired Juliet and kept pulling for her as the story unfolds. There's also a minor romantic thread which contributes to a satisfying conclusion.
My favorite character doesn't get a lot of face time in this story, but her influence shines throughout - and that's Juliet's mom. First of all, Carol became a Christian many years before this story opens in spite of family opposition, evidenced by these words of Juliet's father: "Carol, what sense does it make that a man died and then three days later he came alive again? That's scientifically impossible." I can't help but think of situations where, through the faith and prayers of one family member, seeds are planted that bear fruit through many generations to come. And Where Rivers Part beautifully illustrates the impact of Juliet's mom: "Her simple faith, her steadfast commitment to a man who didn't deserve her loyalty, her willingness to empty her own dreams to fill the needs of others. . . . Her mother was loved."
I'd like to end with this passage of assurance from Isaiah 43 that sustained Carol, ministered to Juliet, and speaks to me as well:
"Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you . . . For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior."
- Isaiah 43:1-3
Where Rivers Part is a highly entertaining and poignant drama, highly recommended.
Thank you to Revell Publishing for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.