Sometimes the person we have a difficult time forgiving is ourselves. Sin has a way of doing that. Ingraining itself into your soul, tormenting you every minute of the day and night, reminding you of your mistakes over and over again. Yet nothing can free us from that feeling unless we are willing to turn it over to God first. Nothing we do, can erase that guilt and sin like He can.
In Kim Vogel Sawyer's latest novel, Through the Deep Waters, Dinah Hubley has lived every girls nightmare. Making a decision at 16 to save her mother from being thrown out on the streets when she became ill working at the Yellow Parrot, a brothel in 1883 in Chicago, she does the unthinkable. When the owner of the brothel, Flo, informs her that no one stays for free in her hotel unless she can pay, she offers Dinah a one time opportunity for just the man willing to pay her to settle her debts to care for her mother. She takes Flo up on her offer and suddenly realizes her mistake, But before she can leave, the man refuses to let her go and forces Dinah to fulfill her commitment.
Knowing that she will be forever scarred by that one act, she flees to Kansas to work as a Harvey Girl as a server in their hotel. She hopes with distance, she can leave her past in Chicago. Only the night terrors and guilt will keep her in bondage even at her new job. Since she isn't quite 18, she takes a position as a chambermaid, cleaning rooms with another girl, Ruthie, who hopes that they will become close friends. But since Dinah carries so much guilt with her, she can't even see the honest friendship that Ruthie is offering her. Instead she forces herself to remain alone in a self imposed prison hoping to do her work well enough to get hired as a server.
But Dinah's beauty will only serve as an invitation to many men who fancy her good looks, and none more so than the local chicken farmer, Amos Ackerman. He's been praying to God to send him and wife, but knows that the wagon accident he had a child living him with a limb, will likely live him living alone without the possibility of a wife or family. He can only hope that someday, someone like Dinah might see something more in him than the disability that limits what he can do! Will God find a way to answer his prayers or will be forced to live a life all alone with nothing but his chickens for company?
I received Through the Deep Waters by Kim Vogel Sawyer compliments of Waterbrook Multnomah for my honest review. I did not receive any monetary compensation for a favorable review and the opinions expressed here are strictly my own. This is such a beautiful story of forgiveness and redemption among the least of us that deserve it. It also highlights the awareness to childhood sexual abuse and the implications that can be carried throughout the lives of those impacted for years. Just the burden they have to carry with them can be more painful than the act itself and one they feel that they are to blame. Such a beautiful story of how happily ever afters can happen even in light of something so horrible! I easily give this one a 5 out of 5 stars. A reading discussion guide is included at the conclusion of this novel for book clubs.
Dinah was not only born in a brothel but was raised there until she turned seventeen. The cook at the brothel told her about advertisements for Harvey Girl waitresses in hopes of getting her out of the brothel before she became like the others. To her disappointment she would have to be eighteen to be a waitress but to her great surprise they would hire her as a housekeeper at the hotel. She will finally be able to put the stigma behind her of being shunned by the community as being tainted.
She is determined to stay to herself and work hard at Clifton Hotel in Florence, Kansas so she can move on to becoming a Harvey Girl when she turns eighteen. She catches the interest and admiration of a Florence local chicken farmer, Amos Ackerman. She is flattered by the attention but stays in fear of someone finding out about being the daughter of a prostitute. She avoids making friends with the girls she works with but takes up their invitation to join them in going to church. She is shown nothing but love and respect from everyone. She wondered why anyone, much less God, would care about the illegitimate daughter of a prostitute?
The author has written a sad tale of an illegitimate girl searching to find respectability. More so she yearned for unconditional love. The character Dinah had little confidence in mankind and for good cause. She was shown little more love than an unwanted rodent. This story reveals God had other plans for Dinah beyond anything she could ever have imaged. It was a heart-wrenching tale turned by redemption and reconciliation. Then there is sweet tender love growing in the heart of a most unexpected young man for this lovely lost girl.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from Blogging for Books/WATERBROOK PRESS for an honest review.
Through the Deep Waters by Kim Vogel Sawyer is a story of extreme sadness but also of extreme joy. It even has a magical Cinderella quality in some parts of the book. Honestly, I wasn't sure if I would like this novel when I realized it was based on a girl who grew up in a brothel because I wasn't sure how much they would say about it. But when I started to read it I found it to be a powerful story of redemption filled with needed reminders to Christians on how we should react to ugly situations in life.
Dinah has hated her life for as long as she could remember. Growing up in a brothel has brought her nothing but grief so when an opportunity arises for her to leave she grabs it. Leaving her ugly past behind, she travels from Chicago for a job as a chambermaid at the Clifton Hotel in Florence, Kansas. Her goal is to become a Harvey girl when she turns eighteen because she wants the prestige and respect that comes with it. Even though she has moved far from home and past, she is still beset with fear. It governs her life so much that she can't see or accept any good in her life.
Amos Ackerman walks with a limp from a wagon accident when he was a child. Because his leg didn't heal right, he is limited in what he can do. He started a chicken farm so he can support himself and has been doing quite well with it. During one of his trips to town, he meets Dinah. Immediately drawn to her, he thinks he may have met his future wife. When he sees her at church, he is almost positive she is the one. But their journey together isn't as easy as he thought it would be. Why is Dinah so timid and fearful?
Even though this isn't what I would typically read, I found it to be one of the best books the author has written. I really liked Amos. He has a lot of perseverance, and I loved how realistic the author wrote him with his physical and spiritual struggles. One of my favorite parts of the story was when Dinah got saved. Finally free of fear and shame, she blossoms into a confident lady. What a wonderful story of hope and the redeeming power of God.
I was given this book free from Waterbrook Multnomah in exchange for an honest review.
This is the story of Dinah, a young lady raised in a brothel, who is broken and scarred. She meets Amos, a chicken farmer who is crippled from an accident as a child. She asks him, "What broke you?" She doesn't realize that she is broken. I thought about this statement and realized that in some ways we are all broken like Dinah and Amos. We are all in need of God's mercy and Forgiveness. Mrs. Sawyer brought this out so wonderfully in her story. I was so touched by the tender story of Dinah and her desire for forgiveness and love, of Amos and his desire for God to send him a helpmeet. This book is such a tender love story. But it is also a book of encouragement and faith. I received this book free from Waterbrook Multnomah for an honest review. I am so glad that I did because it really touched my heart.
Kim Vogel Sawyer's latest novel is one that has been on her heart for years. I can see why.
Dinah is a girl fighting a battle every day just to keep living.
She's paralyzed by fear and bound by shame, and both were bequeathed to her by one abuser, one man.
Dinah is extremely sensitive to other people's suffering. That's why she asked a limping stranger a very pointed question: "What broke you?"
In a world where we avoid addressing people's pain- perhaps because we are impotent to fix it?- Dinah stood out.
Little did she know that this stranger would soon see *her* brokenness and be drawn to her. That man was Amos Ackerman.
Amos's time with Dinah is less about him and her than about God changing him, because even tender-hearted Amos will judge a person without knowing them. His story is about how God changes his attitude, showing him how he could easily be part of Dinah's problem instead of Dinah's healing.
Then there's Ruthie, a fellow chambermaid at the Harvey Hotel.
A young lady from a wholesome home who doesn't fear the dark or shy from men's attention.
Ruthie must crack open her heart and realize that not everyone had the beautiful, innocent early years like she did.
She must learn how- reluctantly, falteringly- to give kindness to Dinah, and be glad instead of jealous when Dinah is blessed.
Ruthie's part in the story serves to remind us that we don't know somebody until they reveal themselves.
We can guess and assume and judge but until we communicate honestly we can't meet their needs.
Another truth comes through in this story, if you know where to look. Prostitution is not a choice women make, it's a situation that they're forced into.
In our sin-sick world we don't always gather the vulnerable and broken and destitute under our wings. Sometimes, we push them out onto the street. And once there, whether you're a 24 year old mother of three with nobody to help provide, or a 15 year old runaway with self-absorbed or abusive parents, what do you do to stay alive?
Whether you're forced into sex slavery out of poverty, or because you've been bombarded by the message that you're good for nothing else, or because a boyfriend/pimp has taken control of you, every woman deserves better. The evils of others are not her fault.
She didn't bring them upon herself, and she does have a future ahead of her if we will step up and help her heal.
Fellow reader, if you have a passion for helping women be healed and set free after abuse and mistreatment, then I suggest that you read further. Educate yourself about the psychology of abuse. Study the patterns of shame that bind a woman when she's told that someone else's crime was her fault. Try Naomi Zacharias' book The Scent of Water. Try Mary Pipher's book Reviving Ophelia.
Look up Vicki Tiede and Shannon Ethridge, both of them speak hope into women's lives.
The sex slavery that Dinah was surrounded by still goes on, and will until theres's no one left who thinks they can purchase a woman.
Read The White Umbrella by Mary Francis Bowley. She believes that it can happen: Sex Slavery and Prostitution can be ended.
That's the vision. That's the goal.
It will involve large-scale work like is done at Wellspring Living, and personal restoration like what happened to Dinah.
The results will be just as beautiful as a confident, peaceful, loved young woman.