Thursday, January 28, 2016

Book Review: Wonderland Creek

Reading Lynn Austin's Wonderland Creek made me sad. It made me sad because it is a book I would surely recommend to my mother if she were still able to focus and process books. She would have loved this book. How I wish I could recommend it to her and then call her after she read it so that we could discuss our shared love of the book. I had recommended Lynn Austin as an author to keep her eye out for back in 2011, when I read and reviewed her book, Though Waters Roar. I'm not sure if my mother ever checked out an Austin book or not. I'm surprised I haven't checked out another book by this fine author since 2011.

Alice Grace Ripley loves books to abstraction (my kind of protagonist). When her intense love of words and books comes between her and her beau, Gordon, causing him to break up with her, Alice is distraught. On top of that, because of the Depression, she loses her job as a librarian. With nothing to do and a strong desire to flee Gordon's presence, Alice decides to hitch a ride with her aunt and uncle and deliver several boxes of donated books to a librarian she has been corresponding with in Kentucky. They drop her off in the small Kentucky town and promise to return for her in two weeks after they visit a spa in the south. Imagine Alice's surprise when she discovers the librarian she has been writing to is a man with a feminine-sounding name and the town is so small there isn't even a hotel or cafe. For the first time in Alice's life, her once boring story begins to take on a plot of enormous proportions. Alice plunges further and further into family feuds, hidden treasure, and saddle-back book deliveries.

Once again, Austin has provided a gripping story (although perhaps not as gripping as in Though Waters Roar).  I loved the supporting characters. Within minutes of Alice's arrival in the small town, the reader is sucked into a whole new world full of interesting characters, colorful landscapes, and daunting obstacles. Even though the Christian message in the book was hammered a bit more than I remembered from the last Austin book (a pet peeve of mine - I hate it when Christian authors put the message before the story, rather than the story before the message), I was still able to focus primarily on the story.

The end of the book offers several discussion questions. The final question read: "If you could write the next chapter in Alice's life, what would it be?" I loved the characters so much that I immediately began to contemplate where life will take Alice. It would be so much fun to write the next chapter in Alice's life.

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