Life Hurricanes are what author Michael Morris says he tends to write about. Well, for poor Ella Wallace her hurricane is a Category 5 stalled on top of her without even the hope of a reprieve during the eye of the storm.
Ella’s husband ran out on her and their sons, leaving them to try to pay off the debts he incurred so they don’t lose Ella’s land. A mysterious cousin with a gift of healing shows up unexpectedly and helps spur Ella to fight for what belongs to her.
The story is engaging and keeps you involved through the end; it is loosely based on an incident from the author’s grandfather’s childhood. It is a highly descriptive tale of the struggles of one family set against the harshness of a community past its prime and a nation at war. The characters can seem a bit stereotypical: the nosey pastor’s wife whose husband seems disconnected from the people he serves, the flamboyant evangelist who is more concerned with finding Eden than following Christ. You can tell who the “bad guys” are because they are unable to keep their food inside their mouths while they eat.
Ella, the main character, is strong-willed and determined not to lose her land. Her work ethic is commendable but at the same time her pride is crushing. She really does not want help from anybody and only accepts Lanier’s offer as a last ditch effort. Lanier is fighting his own issues from the past, revolving around the death of his wife. On top of that, he has a gift-or curse-of healing that makes people scared of him. Working so closely and in such dire circumstances, Lanier and Ella nurse an attraction for each other even though no one knows if Ella’s husband is dead or alive.
This is not typical “Christian Fiction” in the fact that, though struggles abound in the world of Christian Fiction, there is usually some sort of acknowledgement that God has seen the characters through their hard times. Although Ella begins to bring her family back to church, I was left with the impression that Ella’s determination, spurred on by Lanier’s love and faith in her, is what ultimately saved her situation. Although her struggles were very real, there was no struggle with God and not much more than a superficial mentioning of His presence, so the conclusion to me was not as satisfying as I would have liked. However, even though it is a hard story, it is a good read.
A side note: the storyline about the Garden of Eden being near Apalachicola is based on actual beliefs in the late 1800’s early 1900’s. Visit the Explore Southern History website and look up The Legend of the Garden of Eden!
For more information about this book and to read the first chapter, go to the author’s website-michaelmorrisbooks.com or visit Tyndale House Publishers.
I received this book free of charge from the Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for an honest review.