Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Book Review: "In Every Heartbeat" by Kim Vogel Sawyer

As three friends who grew up in the same orphanage head off to college together, they each harbor a special plan for the future. Libby Conley hopes to become a famous journalist. Pete Leidig believes God has called him to study to become a minister. And Bennett Martin plans to pledge a fraternity, find a place to belong, and have as much fun as possible. But as tensions rise around the world on the brink of World War I, the friends' differing aspirations and opinions begin to divide them, as well. When Libby makes a shocking discovery about Pete's family, will it drive a final wedge between the friends or bond them in ways they never anticipated?

I honestly don't know why I don't normally put Kim Vogel Sawyer's books on my wish list. Every one of her books that I have read, I have really enjoyed. The story is engaging and the characters are really interesting. This story was no exception. I found myself drawn in right from the beginning and enjoyed my entire time reading the story. I found it to be very well written and a pleasant way to pass the afternoon. In fact the same day that I got the book, mere minutes after getting the mail I started reading the book and couldn't stop.

The three main characters are all orphans who grew up together and are now attending college. I was pleasantly surprised that the use of a love triangle between the three characters was NOT used at all. I was desperately afraid that the overused plot line would be a shown here and was really glad to see that a different direction took place. I really enjoyed reading about college life in the early 20th century. While there are obvious differences from dorm living and fraternities of today compared with back then, there are still many similarities that readers will be able to relate with.

Out of the three characters, I found Bennett's character to be the most interesting. This is mainly because he doesn't have a past that he can go back to or really remember. He wanted to go to college to make a new name for himself and start fresh. Yet the other two keep trying to make him remain the same. While I can understand why they were doing this, at the same time it was a bit annoying that they couldn't go out and enjoy growing up and a new life. Libby and Pete got a little preachy at times. The whole morality in stories bit irked me at times. I found that Libby reminded me of Jo March with how she was writing stories for the paper and her dream of becoming a writer.

I sympathized with Libby's frustrations about not being adopted and feeling like she wasn't wanted. I also could not understand why in the world Maelle and Jackson never realized how hurt Libby was at the news that they were adopting other girls. I wonder why after they got married they never considered adopting Libby. It stays unresolved throughout the book and it's very frustrating that no answer is ever given. I just wish that either Libby could have asked straight out or Maelle just give out an answer or realize how Libby felt.

As this is a Christian book, talking about faith is weaved a lot throughout the story. It plays a great deal in the lives of all the characters. However I felt like it was never a dominant force and that the story itself was very intriguing and enjoyable. If you have read any of Sawyer's books before, you will recognize characters from her previous book, My Heart Remembers. While reading that book is not required at all to enjoy this one, it's really nice to see former characters and see how they've all fared since the first book ended. Overall, I found this to be a good historical read and I would love if there's another book in the future that features these characters. I will definitely remember to put it on my wish list.

In Every Heartbeat by Kim Vogel Sawyer is published by Bethany House (2010)

This review copy was provided for a blog tour with the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

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