Title: River to Redemption
Author: Ann H Gabhart
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publishing Date: July 3, 2018
About the Book:
Orphaned in the cholera epidemic of 1833, Adria Starr was cared for by a slave named Louis, a man who stayed in Springfield, Kentucky, when anyone with means had fled. A man who passed up the opportunity to escape his bondage and instead tended to the sick and buried the dead. A man who, twelve years later, is being sold by his owners despite his heroic actions. Now nineteen, Adria has never forgotten what Louis did for her. She’s determined to find a way to buy Louis’s freedom. But in 1840s Kentucky, she’ll face an uphill battle.
Based partly on a true story, Ann H. Gabhart’s latest historical novel is a tour de force. The vividly rendered town of Springfield and its citizens immerse readers in a story of courage, betrayal, and honor that will stick with them long after they turn the last page.
This was a wonderfully written story set in the 1830-40’s. It grips your heart right from the very beginning, when you see Adria’s entire family die from Cholera. Louis comes to her rescue and kindly lays her family to rest along with the many others who died from the illness. The bond that is created between them is undeniable. So twelve years later when Louis’s owner passes away, it’s easy to see how desperately Adria wants to buy his freedom to prevent him from going to the auction block. There’s really no way for your heart to be left unaffected.
I really liked how the author was able to reveal the hearts of her characters based on their life experiences. It gave them each a level of depth that not only made their stories more believable, but made empathy for them unavoidable. Everyone experienced some level of heartbreak in their lives, and it leads them to where they are intricately placed in the story. When they are able to let go of their pain and lean on the Lord, they are able to find true healing. This was encouraging to read.
I also liked that the author didn’t minimize the pain that the characters went through, but instead showed how their pasts shaped their present. For example, Adria recognizes her pain in losing her family, but also realized that Ruth did her best in raising her despite her own flaws and pain. It was imperfect people helping and walking alongside other imperfect people. It was beautiful to see how the Lord could work through such a community.
The author’s note reveals that while the story itself is fictional, it is partially based on a true story. Louis was a man that existed in real life. A lot of his story as revealed in the book is actually based on the real Louis’s experiences. Although the other characters were the imagination of the author, you are still able to see how the town would rally to buy his freedom. This made my heart smile.
On a small note I also have to say that I LOVE the cover art for this book. I highly recommend this story! I was sucked in right from the beginning. It touched me emotionally and I’m very glad I read it. This wasn’t my first book by Ann H Gabhart, and it certainly won’t be my last 🙂
*I received a complimentary copy of this book by NetGalley and the author in hopes of an honest review. I was not obligated to give a positive review. Thoughts and opinions expressed are mine alone.
Age Appropriateness: This was a good, clean story. There is some very mild romance, but it’s minor. As long as they could handle the reading level I could recommend this to a 10-12 year old easily.