In the mid-1800s, a little girl is rescued off the streets of New York City . Reverend Joseph offers Kassandra (Sadie, from Ten Thousand Charms) a home, an education, a chance to learn about the love of God, and a cranky housekeeper. It's not a bad package until, when Kassandra is just fifteen years old, Ben Connor sweeps her off her feet, shatters her heart, and steals her hope. From one NYC brothel to another in San Francisco, and a baby in between, Kassandra winds up in Wyoming Territory with scarcely a light in her eye. Then she meets Gloria, who's pregnant and desperate, and Biddy, a young girl of great faith. After all Kassandra has been through, what could they possibly teach her that life's cruelties haven't already? Perhaps the truth that God never left her, and the chance to return home again.
After a lifetime of mistakes…can Kassandra ever be forgiven?
New York City, 1841
When Reverend Joseph plucks a gravely wounded child from the mean streets of Manhattan’s rough Five Points District, he intends to give her a real home. And though Kassandra flourishes in the preacher’s house, learning Bible verses at his knee and going to school, as a young teenager she makes the first of many devastating decisions, running away from the only haven she’s ever known.
What follows is a waking nightmare: life in a tiny room above a brothel, the loss of a child, a lover’s rejection, and finally, life as a prostitute. As circumstances lead her further and further from the reverend’s secure home, an ashamed Kassandra is certain that neither God, nor Joseph, will ever forgive her.
Feeling as though she has nothing left to lose and nowhere to go, Kassandra leaves behind her hopes of redemption and heads west to California, where she is transformed into the woman known as Sadie. Unfortunately, nothing in her life is pointing to a happy ending, and Sadie is forced to grapple with the question: Once you’ve passed the point of no return, can you ever go back?
Allison Pittman is a former English teacher in Texas. In 2005, she was awarded the Harvard Prize Book in recognition of her teaching excellence. She also serves as the leader for her church’s Theater Arts Group, writing and directing worship drama. Whenever possible, Allison enjoys going on dates with her husband of seventeen years, Mike, or just hanging out with their three sons–which usually means spending a lot of time at soccer fields and baseball diamonds.
In the touching novel Speak Through the Wind, author Allison Pittman retells the story of the prodigal child with a new twist. As a young girl, Kassandra is swept off the streets and taken in by a kind preacher who rears her in his home. When romance turns her head, she abandons that kindness in search of something more. Falling deeper and deeper into the pits of the world, she discovers that life away from her home is not all that she expected, and she wonders if it is too late to go back. Further tragedy strikes and the fragile walls Kassandra has constructed for her life crumble around her, but she ultimately learns that though she was drifting away from God, He was always waiting to forgive her and show her the love she had been seeking all along.
Finding herself abandoned as a small child, young Kassandra quickly learns what it means to survive on the streets of New York City in 1841. When an accident leaves her seriously wounded, only the care of Reverend Joseph Hartmann can save her fragile life. He takes her in and provides her with a comfortable home, teaching her about Gods word and the hope she can have in Christ. As a teenager, her innocent heart is stolen by a young Irish man named Ben, who leads her on a whirlwind romance and convinces her to run away with him. Young love quickly turns into disaster as Kassandra discovers Bens world is not like she imagined. Lost in an arena of violence, deceit, and eventually prostitution, Kassandra believes that she has gone too far and that her Father will never forgive her. Her decisions continue to lead her farther from her home and her Lord, and though hope is offered for a short period of time, the reader wonders, too, whether she will return home or if she is lost forever.
Speak Through the Wind begins at a quick pace, moving persistently, and spending little time on background information. However, as the story progresses, the plot occasionally stalls. In two instances, it seemed that the author was unsure of where to take the storyline, and the main character became stuck in one spot for several chapters. This made continuing with the story difficult; however, there are redeeming sections of the novel that pull the reader back. In particular, there is a moment of hope that seems to create a happy ending for all involved. Unfortunately, the main characters choices disappoint the reader again and prolong her own suffering.
The strength of this novel lies in the authors ability to create a realistic and dramatic environment that grabs the readers attention. However, Pittman fails to maintain that realism with her characters. Perhaps Kassandras naiveté is believable when she is living in the Reverends home, but after she has worked several years as a prostitute, it becomes unconvincing. Reverend Joseph also possesses a character flaw: unbelievable perfection. He is always the redeemer for others, but never seems to need forgiveness himself. The final blemish of the novel is the incredibly abrupt ending which could leave some readers searching for more.
Overall, Speak Through the Wind book is not light summer reading, but an insightful piece dealing with the endless battle of sin and forgiveness. Nicole Miller, Christian Book Previews.com
“In Speak Through the Wind, Allison Pittman guides her heroine down the dark alleys of New York and through the bustling streets of San Francisco on a harrowing journey toward wholeness. Carefully chosen details and realistic dialogue brings the gritty scenes to life as Cassandra spirals downward, even as her day of redemption draws near.”
- Liz Curtis Higgs, bestselling author of Grace in Thine Eyes
“While Speak Through the Wind is beautifully written, wonderfully moving, and a testament to God’s love, it suffers from the following: It is highly incompatible with mascara (waterproof or otherwise), getting one’s children to school ahead of the tardy bell, and putting dinner on the table. I simply could not put it down.”
- Tamara Leigh, bestselling author of Perfecting Kate