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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Beyond the Valley by Rita Gerlach

Beyond the Valley by Rita Gerlach
Abingdon Fiction
ISBN: 978-1426714160
Published Feb 1, 2013
Trade Paperback, 336 pages

After young Sarah Carr's husband dies, she seeks help from his family and instead finds herself kidnapped and taken from her hometown in England to the Colonies to live as an indentured servant. She is sold as a slave and suffers many hardships. Her hope is in her God and the man she falls in love with. But circumstances pull them apart until years later.

The premise attracted me to this novel because it was based on the fact that men, women and children were kidnapped in England in Colonial days. The story starts well enough, but soon I began to struggle with it. I persevered, hoping I would like it more, but I only grew more frustrated. There were a few reasons for this. Foremost was that I didn't enjoy the author's style of writing. Sarah goes from one bad experience to another, but it all seemed so superficial. She goes through all these hardship, but I don't feel any of it, and I am a sensitive person! The characters were underdeveloped so that I barely felt like I knew them at all. They said and did things that sometimes felt unbelievable. The events and feelings were not explored in depth. It seemed like a list of one bad situation after another.

Some of the situations were ludicrous and the dialogue was unrealistic. I just could not relate. It seems like everyone she meets somehow has great faith in God. Sarah is considered crippled because she has a very noticeable limp, caused by having one leg shorter than the other...by half an inch. What? She can't run and has never danced. A doctor provides her with a half-inch pad of felt that she places in her shoe and voila! she is no longer limping! No longer a cripple. Later when she loses this pad, she goes back to limping and never thinks to replace it in any way. Back to being a cripple.

Another scene has Sarah in a wagon with an experienced backwoodsman. A cougar appears and is about to pounce so Sarah (who has never touched a rifle in her life) grabs the musket from him and shoots the cougar in the dark as the cougar springs upward. She kills it and then hands the musket back as if this was an everyday occurrence. No description of emotions before or after. Really? Another is how easily she escaped the Indians. They were healthy strapping young men who hunt and have lived in the wilderness all their lives, whereas Sarah was undernourished, weak and limping. Yet, she somehow outsmarted them for two days in the woods (author doesn't give much details of how she did this...)

Overall, this was a disappointing read for me. The dilemmas were glossed over, and I found the Christian theme too sweet and preachy. Not realistic enough for me.  Except for the cover, which depicted the heroine perfectly.

Note: This book is rated C = clean read.

Reviewed by Laura

Disclosure: Thanks to the publisher and Pump Up Your Book Promotions for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.

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