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Friday, April 4, 2014

"Where Courage Calls" (Janette Oke and Laurel Oke Logan)

TITLE: Where Courage Calls: A When Calls the Heart Novel
AUTHOR: Janette Oke and Laurel Oke Logan
PUBLISHER: Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2014, (336 pages).

For every Jewish boy, there is the coming out of age ritual called the Bar Mitzvah. For girls, it is their Bat Mitzvah in which at age 12, she becomes responsible for her own life. In various countries, the issuing of a driving license or the legal age for employment is a way to signify the coming out of age of that individual. Others see military conscription as a way to turn a child into an adult man. Bestselling author and significant contributor to the Christian book industry Janette Oke has done it again with her daughter as a co-author. It is about a compelling story of a girl called Beth Thatcher who had come out of age from a wealthy and comfortable home of her parents toward an unknown rugged wild, wild West. The seeds of her call to courageous living begin early when someone told her that we often rely on things we want to remember instead of remembering the things that actually were. Yet, that is what Beth continues to do in comfortable Toronto society where she lives constantly basking in the wealth of her family. Until an opportunity knocks on her door to pursue a teaching position in Coal Valley where the unknowns there easily overwhelm her memories of the knowns back home. She encounters the need for courage beginning with that single major decision to go.

With courage as a central theme, Oke weaves many other twists and turns that the protagonist had to go through. Beth struggles with a need to be independent and yet reminisces on her life of dependence on a life of luxury. Right from the start, there is the shock of losing her belongings. Then there is the scary experience of traveling to a place that is so remote. Beth soon realizes that losing possessions is one thing, losing loved ones is another, judging from how the mining town had just experienced a tragedy of a mining accident. This hits home and hard when Beth reads in the essays submitted  to her, about the students' description of how the loss of their dads had affected them personally. Then there is the emotional tug of war between two men, both potential suitors. Yet, there are upsides to this seemingly challenging venture. There is the beauty of Coal Valley, the mountains, the fields, the lush greens, and the natural rivers. There is the Church that she worships in which has given her a semblance of familiarity. Then there is her growing love for her own children, while by virture of one mining disaster, had been ushered into sudden adulthood. With each pleasant encounter, there is a desire to learn more. With each unpleasant event, there is a tendency to retreat. Chief of them all is the constant urging to spring back from the unknown strange environment toward a known environment. As her first school year comes to a close, will she continue in Coal Valley or will she return to comfortable Torontonian society?

This novel adds to an already impressive list of inspirational fiction by Janette Oke. Within it are themes of compassion, love, danger, courage, faith, uncertainty, romance, relationships, and basic humanity lived out. Most importantly, readers are invited to feel the tensions experienced by Beth Thatcher, and to subtly ask the question: "If I were Beth, what would I have done?" This question itself can turn this fictional story very much into our own moments of real-life biographies.

Janette Oke's long list of inspirational fiction books can be found here.



This book is provided to me courtesy of Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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