April 30, 2015

Until The Harvest

Until the Harvest
by Sarah Loudin Thomas

I have been an “influencer” for all of Sarah Loudin Thomas’ books, and was very excited to receive Until the Harvest in the mail—I read it the very same day! I love the cover; so simple yet so fitting with the story. I was pleased to find I loved this second book in the Appalachian Blessings series just as much as her precursor novella and book one.

Until the Harvest alternates between the point of view of Henry and Margaret. I found myself enjoying their sections of the book equally and loved the dimension the variety gave to the book. But what I especially loved about Henry and Margaret were their real life flaws. Instead of writing perfect characters, Thomas gives hers perfect opportunities to become better people through the pages of her novel.
In her writing, Thomas transported me to 1976 to a small farming community where life is simpler and people really care about each other. The descriptions of the time and place were superb and the dialogue between characters only aided in the setting as it was kept fairly simple as well.

This was a fast read but only because the book flowed so well. I never found myself confused about what was happening in the story, and just couldn’t wait to see what would happen next and how it would unfold. I appreciated that there was both internal and external conflict for the characters. Henry and Margaret were both really hard on themselves at different points in the story, and those honest examples were great additions to the story. I especially enjoyed watching them realize they were more than just friends, yet was glad that Thomas made them work for a happy ending. I did wish to see more of Henry’s grief, however, and that Margaret’s past had been more fully explored.

Throughout Until the Harvest, multiple characters either found Jesus for the first time or experienced an awakening of sorts. Also, prayer played an integral part in the community. There was just enough spirituality in the book that I feel a non-Christian would not enjoy it. The story line also involved a young child gifted with the power of healing. Very conservative readers might be offended by mention of moonshine and premarital sex, but in the writing style neither are mentioned for shock value but simply to explain the characters and their trials in life.

I loved how Thomas takes a time and place of late 1900s and Appalachia and weaves stories for us. This setting isn’t the most common and therefore is an exciting change of pace to read about. This book will appeal to anyone that loved her first book but also to readers who enjoy Jan Watson or anyone that enjoys contemporary fiction that isn’t necessarily romantic. If I hadn’t started this book right after I checked the mail, I probably would have stayed up super late to finish it. Thomas’ characters were so easy to relate to and her writing flowed so well that I couldn’t help but turn page after page. Until the Harvest was full of emotion and tugged at my heart strings as the characters experienced sorrow, joy, healing, and second chances as they work their way through life.

The author and Bethany House provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.