Roots of Wood and Stone
by Amanda Wen
Series: Sedgwick County Chronicles #1
Published by Kregel Publications
Publication Date February 2, 2021
Genres: Christian Fiction, Clean Romance
Setting: Kansas Contemporary, Gilded Age – US – 1875 – 1900
Main Character Ages: 25-30
Written for: Adults
This historic home holds the keys to their destiny . . .and their hearts
Abandoned at birth, her family roots a mystery, historical museum curator Sloane Kelley has dedicated her life to making sure others know theirs. When a donor drops off a dusty old satchel, she doesn't expect much from the common artifact . . .until she finds real treasure inside: a nineteenth-century diary. Now she's on the hunt to find out more.
Garrett Anderson just wanted to clean out his grandmother's historic but tumbledown farmhouse before selling it to fund her medical care. With her advancing Alzheimer's, he can't afford to be sentimental about the family home. But his carefully ordered plan runs up against two formidable obstacles: Sloane, who's fallen in love with both the diaries and the house, and his own heart, which is irresistibly drawn to Sloane.
A century and a half earlier, motherless Annabelle Collins embarks with her aunt and uncle on the adventure of a lifetime: settling the prairies of Sedgwick County, Kansas. The diaries she left behind paint a portrait of life, loss, and love--and a God who faithfully carries her through it all. Paging through the diaries together takes Sloane and Garrett on a journey they never could have planned, which will change them in ways they never imagined.
This warm, beautifully written split-time novel will resonate with readers looking for stories that reveal the beauty of God's plan for our lives, and how our actions ripple for generations.
I would like to thank Audra Jennings, Netgalley for giving me a copy of this book. This gift did not influence my opinion or review.
You know “that kid” in school who everyone hated because they messed up the grading curve with their 99% on the test? If books were students, Amanda Wen’s debut novel, Roots of Wood and Stone, is “that kid”. And with books, you want to read the book that is “that kid”.
So let’s talk about what made this such a great story.
First, I’ll mention the characters. Brother and sister, Lauren and Garrett, made me laugh as they interacted with one another. And they touched my heart for the pain and abandonment they felt when their dad moved away and stopped having much to do with them. And the sweet way they cared for their grandma with Alzheimer’s caused me to admire them. I cracked up at Lauren’s attempts to feed Garrett healthy foods and his reaction to them.
Then there was Sloane. She was such a contradiction! Serious historian by day, sultry jazz singer by night. An adopted child with a sense of being all alone in the world. She always felt like everyone’s Plan B.
I’ll mention the writing next. Oh, the words blended so beautifully! I found myself marking passage after passage. I reveled in the lovely imagery and richly experienced the thoughts and feelings of the characters. I went through almost the full gamut of emotions, from laughter at the clever manner in which Garrett foisted the old satchel on the unsuspecting Sloane to heartbreak over loss and grief, to anger at Garrett’s decisions, to excitement and wonder at the discoveries they made along the way. (And dare I mention the heart melting by the romance in both the present day and the past?)
The plot was very interesting and well-executed. I loved the parallels of the feelings between the present-day characters and those of the past. Annabelle’s story captured my mind and my heart as it did those of Sloane, Scott, and Laurel.
A strong faith element runs through the pages. Questions like why God allows pain and suffering and whether we have any value in His eyes were addressed. I was especially touched as Sloane discovered that her worth and belonging had nothing to do with her earthly heritage but everything to do with her relationship with her Heavenly Father.
This lovely story stands well on its own but I am delighted to have discovered that Laurel will have her story told in the next book of the Sedgwick County Chronicles series. If you enjoy Christian fiction, don’t wait to read Roots of Wood and Stone yourself. (And be sure to visit Amanda Wen’s website and sign up for her newsletter. She has a free short story listed there that sounds super!)