Roses & Thorns

Roses & Thorns

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Waiting for Summer's Return by Kim Vogel Sawyer


All alone on the Kansas prairie, Summer Steadman has few options. With her husband and children lost to illness, she has no desire to continue on farther west to where she and her husband planned to build their future. Instead, she seeks employment in a small Mennonite community in order to be near the graves of her family. Widower Peter Ollenburger, the local gristmill owner, needs someone to teach his young son. When he hears of a "learned woman" in town, he believes she is the answer to his prayers. He soon discovers, however, that helping this outsider may have troublesome consequences. There is little this father will not do for his son, but as the boy begins to look at Summer as more than a teacher, Peter must make a choice. Does he marry this woman to give his son a new mother, or does he marry only for love? Will Summer's broken heart ever be able to love again?

Donna's Review:

Kim Vogel Sawyer's website  advertises “gentle stories of hope” and Waiting for Summer’s Return certainly delivered. 
Bostonian Summer Steadham is stranded in a Mennonite town in Kansas after the deaths of her husband and four children of typhoid. In order to remain close to their graves, she takes a job as a tutor for widower Peter  Ollenberger’s ten year old son, Thomas . Peter is a sweet, admirable, hardworking man. He is infinitely patient with  Summer  which, in her grief stricken state, she needs. I liked him, but I sure wanted him to lose his temper at least once. He really was almost too good to be true. I really could find no fault in the man.
As a matter of fact, I couldn’t find fault with any of the characters beside the townspeople at the beginning who don’t like Summer because she is not a Mennonite. As a result, I did not find enough high energy conflict in the book to keep me interested in reading every word. I skipped over the substory of Summer’s conversion to the Mennonite faith as well as her ministering to her mother-in-law near the end of the book. I found it preachy and too slow for me to wade through reading. I kept waiting for an explosion between Summer, an obvious outsider, and the Mennonites, who were clearly displeased with her arrival in their community. After a few harsh words between Peter and church elders, one woman befriends Summer and the rest soon follow.
The one creeping fault in Summer’s character is her selfish and persistent decision to drag her husband and children from Boston to a life on the Kansas prairie over their wishes. I waited for the gut wrenching emotional turmoil that would set her towards the struggle of taming her selfish side. It never happened. She acknowledged it briefly, and that was the end of the matter. Even Peter’s son, ten year old Thomas, is too good to be true.

The book is well written. The prose flows nicely. The plotting does move along even if it is not a high energy - high stakes sort of novel or romance. 
If you’re a fan of sweet romances and don’t mind long sections devoted to Christianity, then you will enjoy Sawyer’s portrayal of two people trying to move past their pain to find love. If you like grittier fiction, like Kirsten Heitzman and Judith Pella, or fiction with a Christian worldview without any overt plot about Christianity, then you will be disappointed.

Three Roses for this one based on my preferences and nothing else. 

Thanks for visiting - Rose, Julie, Donna, and Rochelle

Length: 348 pages
Print: $12.80
Digital  $4.99
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