Publisher: Thomas Nelson (February 7, 2012)
Kate Winter dreams of escaping from the confines of her family home and her controlling mother, alcoholic father, and self-centered sister. However, her plans to be the first woman to graduate from Otterbein College in Ohio in 1855 seem destined for failure when she cannot summon the courage to give a public speech, a requirement for graduation. When Ben Hanby, the college's musical genius, encourages Kate to sing in a try-out for a musical, her life takes an unexpected turn. Her beautiful voice captivates him, but she becomes ever-more-centered on her lack of courage when she is unable to follow through on singing her song. Her plans to escape from her family continue to consume her until a trip with some family friends causes her eyes to be opened to the reality of slavery, and her focus turns to the plight of others. Kate and Ben must battle through societal expectations and very real danger to find the courage to live out God's calling on their lives.
Elliott has spun a fine tale, written with a skilled pen. The book is filled with excitement, characters that are easy to grow fond of, and heart-breaking circumstances that are certain to capture your interest. The author includes fascinating historical details that will cause you to shake your head at how society could embrace a horrific institution such as slavery. She brings the issue to life by putting very human faces to the struggle of the black slaves to achieve freedom, and has woven that theme seemlessly into Kate's struggle to find herself and determine God's hand in her life. I found the book difficult to put down, and I was deeply moved by the book, particularly as I learned that the book is based on real circumstances and that Kate and Ben truly played a role in American history. Although this is the first time I have picked up a book written by Elliott, I highly anticipate the next book in the series (and though I hadn't read the first in the series, I did not find that this fact at all impacted my enjoyment of Kate and Ben's journey).
I highly recommend this book and give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Book has been provided courtesy of the publisher and the Booksneeze program, for the purposes of this unbiased review.