Monday, January 12, 2015

Review: A Light in the Wilderness by Jane Kirkpatrick

A Light in the Wilderness

By Jane Kirkpatrick

Blurb: Letitia holds nothing more dear than the papers that prove she is no longer a slave. They may not cause white folks to treat her like a human being, but at least they show she is free. She trusts in those words she cannot read–as she is beginning to trust in Davey Carson, an Irish immigrant cattleman who wants her to come west with him.
Nancy Hawkins is loathe to leave her settled life for the treacherous journey by wagon train, but she is so deeply in love with her husband that she knows she will follow him anywhere–even when the trek exacts a terrible cost.
Betsy is a Kalapuya Indian, the last remnant of a once proud tribe in the Willamette Valley in Oregon territory. She spends her time trying to impart the wisdom and ways of her people to her grandson. But she will soon have another person to care for.
As season turns to season, suspicion turns to friendship, and fear turns to courage, three spirited women will discover what it means to be truly free in a land that makes promises it cannot fulfill.

Based on a true story.

Genres: Historical Fiction, Christian, Romance

Publication Date: September 2, 2014

Series: N/A

Pages: 302

My Rating: 3 stars

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

A Light In the Darkness tackles some heavy subject matter; racism. While I applaud the decision to shine some light on that topic, I couldn't help feeling that at times it got glossed over. I mean, this book takes place in the 1840s, a good part of it in Missouri. If you are going to have your book be about racism and use this setting, you have to give an accurate representation of how it would have been like back then. And I don't feel that it was at all times.

Davey Carson is a white man that Tish gets married to in the book. And for some reason, he tells a lot of people that they are married (even though I am pretty sure the agreement was supposed to be that it would be secret, so I don't know what he was thinking.) Marriage between a white person and a freed slave back then would not have been as accepted as this book makes it seem. Not many people said anything, in fact, aside from Davey's son. Sadly, in 1840s Missouri I am not convinced that people would care so little. That was my first on the fence moment with this book.

Secondly, though I am sure that this was just to portray the time that this book took place, I felt at times some characters made comments that I didn't necessarily agree with, and those comments were fully accepted, for the most part, rather than objected against. (That is the reason I did not like them.) Saying that certain things were 'men's work' only that a woman could not accomplish, which the women fully agreed with. Saying things that implied that a woman who had opinions and did not just blindly follow her husband was not acceptable. I understand that those were just the times back then, but it got mentioned so many times that I became uneasy.

I didn't like when the book randomly switched to Nancy and Betsy's POV, because I felt like this should have been told from Tish's view alone. There are better ways of getting to know the two other women in this story; it was rather distracting instead of adding to the book.

It seemed like after a certain point the author got bored with writing out how the story ended, and then just started to fast forward through the years. It went very fast, and I didn't like how it went from a well-thought out story to almost a textbook description of how things went down.

I liked the character of Tish a lot. She overcomes high obstacles, prejudice from other people in particular, throughout the story which was great to read about. She's smart, she's brave, and she can think for herself. It was nice to find a character who isn't weak and Mary-suish, because I'd been finding a lot of those in Christian fiction lately, which is mainly why I took a break from the genre.

I was surprised to find that this was based on a true story, however loosely. That made the story better in my eyes, because the book ends on a more inspiring note, and I was happy to find out that that was not just a fictional ending; it actually happened.

I think that A Light in the Wilderness was a nice plunge for me back into Christian fiction, though it still had its flaws. Still, the overall plot and a great main character makes this book worthwhile.


  1. Wow Gabs, this book is a pretty heavy read. I don'y think I'll pass up on this one since the issue is interesting. Great review!!

    1. Thanks Paula! It definitely is a bit heavier, though I think it could have been done better. Hope you enjoy it! :)


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