I was recently provided the book, Unending Devotion, written by Jody Hedlund to review by Bethany House.
This book was okay, in my opinion. Why only okay? Probably mostly because I could not personally relate to Lily Young, the main character of the book. Her impulsiveness seemed a little TOO much, crossing over into carelessness & foolishness, at times. She loved her sister, a commendable attribute, but she acted in ways that put others in harm's way, without thinking thru the consequences. That said, I really liked Oren's character, who brought humor to the story with his protectiveness & feisty-ness.
I did like the author's ability to transport readers back to another era, to the lumber mills/camps of the 1880s. And, I especially appreciated Hedlund's use of a real town, a real villain and real problem for the storyline, illustrating the possibility for reform, both in the 1880s and still today.
The realness of prostitution & sex-trafficking, while never completely graphic within the pages of the book were presented with authenticity and for this reason, I would not recommend to young readers.
This story took us back to another era, to lumber mills,workers,camps and the dark side of those seeking to make money off of young girls. While based on true events that occurred, this could be happening in today's world as well. There was so much insight into what life was truly like in the lumber camps and just how easily and often innocent girls were pulled into awful bondage. I could tell that this was well researched. The story line was intriguing and the characters rich. I could almost envision the town and atmosphere. I think that Jody Hedlund is a great author and will look for other books she has written.
I was given a free copy from Bethany House and did not receive any payment for my review.
This is a true-to-life novel, based on real events in upper Michigan during the 1880's, in a very small rural community where the logging was the main industry. Lily Young, an 18-year-old who had been orphaned at a very young age, along with her younger sister, Daisy, had been raised in a series of orphanages and crude living situations until she was finally ready to make her own way in life, and fairly quickly set out to right the wrongs of her world.
Lily's greatest concern was for her sister, who sent her a note saying she also was going out on her own and asking Lily not to search for her. Daisy had succumbed to the world of prostitution, and Lily was determined to "rescue" her and others like her, who felt they had no choice of earning a living than to live in the brothels of their time and be cared for by those who earned a living from their misfortune. Once inside a brothel, there was little chance of ever escaping. Those who tried to escape endured horrible punishment, even death.
Lily's only friend and companion was Oren, an elderly photographer, who along with his now deceased wife, Betty, provided a loving home for Lily for the past few years. Oren and Lily traveled the logging camps, photographing the young loggers for income. They arrived at Harrison and ended up in the Northern Hotel, a place for the "shanty boys" who worked the logging camps and spent their nights and received a hot meal at the end of their long work day. Unfortunately, most of these young men also spent much time and most of their hard-earned money in the nearby taverns, drinking and spending time with the in-house prostitutes. It is an extremely sordid environment for a young Christian girl, but Lily is determined to continue her work as a rescuer and refuses to fear any of the men who admire and lust after her.
One young man who stepped in to protect Lily many times, Connell McCormack, turned out to be the son of the local lumber baron, who actually lived in a small city several hours from Harrison. Connell had been raised by a very strict father and obediently attempted to please his father with his hard work and industrious efforts at building up his father's wealth. The logging industry left in its wake a barren and ugly landscape, which Lily noticed and grieved over, almost as much as her girls she attempted to rescue. She surprised herself by being extremely attracted to Connell and finding he was likewise attracted to her, in spite of both of them resolving to avoid the opposite sex!
Between rescuing the fallen women and attempting to change Connell's mindset to that of wanting to improve the environment his logging business has destroyed, this novel is filled with many exciting adventures. Lily was an adventurous and brave young woman, but very foolish in some of her head-strong attempts at her rescues. Connell, because of his love and admiration for this woman, risked his own life many times in order to preserve hers. Lily learns she can trust God to guide her and lead her through her chosen path and help her accomplish her goals, but she had many lessons to learn along the way.
The events in this novel are based on a number of historical events occurring in Harrison, Michigan, as well as some of the characters of that time.
Lily Young is only eighteen but she has been taking care of her younger sister for years. While Lily takes a job and tries to make a life for them, Daisy takes things in her own hands and runs away from the home she is in. Lily will not rest until she finds her sister and pulls her out of a life she knows her sister truly wouldn't want to live. Rescuing other young girls along her journey. Lily has lost sight of one thing though, that God is in control and not her. Can the young woman learn to let go and trust God to handle things?
Connell McCormick works hard and lives a clean life. He tries to please his dad by building their lumber empire larger. When he meets Lily she challenges everything he believes. Can he take the chance to stand up for what's right if it would hurt his father's business? Will evil men be able to continue in their ways because not one good man will challenge them?
This was an excellent read. Very emotional because many of the facts are based on true history. It was a time in the lumber business when men became richer but morals were poor. Where an evil man truly did falsely advertise for young girls to work in his hotel when it was actually a brothel. Very intense but so good.
**Received from Bethany House Publishers for review
I found this to be an emotionally charged and well written story of logging towns and life in the 1880's in Michigan. In particular, a town with a population of 2000 with 20 bars and few honorable men, except of course, for the 'hero' of the story.
It was well researched and tells of home remedies popular in that era; ranges from two and four-legged wolves to rescuing wayward girls trapped in prostitution. It is definitely a page-turner. I was very impressed with the beauty in which it told of a mother's scriptural training of her son, and shows him how to flee temptations. The hero/heroin of the story are referred to as the King of Patience and Queen of Rescues. Very appropriate.
I was given this book to review from Bethany House Publishers and not required to give it any particular praise. I would recommend it for all ages.