Like the winter, grief has a season. Life returns with the spring.
A young architect at a prestigious Chicago firm, Bethany Quinn has built the life she dreamed of during her teen years in a trailer park. An unexpected interruption from her estranged mother reveals that tragedy has struck in her hometown and a reluctant Bethany is called back to rural Iowa.
Determined to pay her respects to her past while avoiding any emotional entanglements, she vows not to stay long. But the unexpected inheritance of five hundred acres of farmland and a startling turn of events in Chicago forces Bethany to come up with a new plan.
Handsome farmhand Evan Price has taken care of the Quinn farm for years. When Bethany is left the land, Evan must fight her decisions to realize his dreams. But even as he disagrees with Bethany’s vision, Evan feels drawn to her and the pain she keeps so carefully locked away.
For Bethany, making peace with her past and the God of her childhood doesn’t seem like the path to freedom. Is letting go the only way to new life, love and a peace that she’s not even sure exists?
“The summer I turned twelve, I tried to kill myself.” This is the opening line of Wildflowers from Winter and the emotional punch of it immediately drew me in. What could possibly cause a twelve year old girl to want to die? The answer is slowly revealed; Bethany had already suffered in her young life. Sadly, the attempted suicide only caused her to be even more isolated from the world.
These days, Bethany is strongly in control of her life. In the course of a few days, however, that life falls to pieces. Bethany’s boyfriend, Dom, has no time for her and then announces he’s taken a job in another city. The husband of her former best friend, Robin, suffers a fatal aneurysm. Her beloved grandfather dies. Finally, she’s laid off. Out of options, Bethany returns to her hometown.
Her best friend, Robin, has become a Christian. Evan, the farm hand, is also a Christian. Bethany can’t stand Christians and has no desire to investigate their faith. Her parents were Christians and look how well that turned out. The family pastor speaks only of fire and brimstone, ignoring Jesus’ message of love. Yet over the course of seven months, Bethany learns the pastor is the exception and not the rule when it comes to Christianity and faith.
Wildflowers from Winter is a novel of endings and beginnings. While reading, I was often reminded of Ecclesiastes. “To everything there is a season,” and although her season begins with tragedies in winter, Bethany witnesses the renewal that spring brings with it. A farm is an ideal location for this; one scene has Bethany assisting in the birth of a calf. Bethany, Evan and Robin have a time to mourn, but the book ends with them experiencing a time of great joy. At one point, Evan says, “Even if we do everything right, things are still going to go wrong.” How true this is. Some things are out of our control, but God is in control and has a plan for us.
This is Katie Ganshert’s debut. Her next novel, Wishing on Willows, has a projected 2013 release. Set in the same Iowan town, it will focus on Robin.
Publisher: Waterbrook Press
Publication Date: 08 May 2012
Page Count: 320
I received my free copy of Wildflowers from Winter from Waterbrook Multnomah’s Blogging For Books program in exchange for an honest review.