Until the Harvest tells the story of Henry Phillips and Margaret Hoffman. Henry is home from college after the death of his father and is struggling through his grief. Poor judgement and the wrong crowd and lead him to regret choices he can’t even remember making.
Margaret spends her time taking care of her younger sister, Mayfair, who has diabetes and an unusual gift for healing people, and doing housework for Henry’s grandmother. But when Margaret’s mother gives her an ultimatum, she has to choose between her hopes and plans and her parents’ expectations.
Until the Harvest is Sarah Loudin Thomas’s second book in the Appalachian Blessings series. I reviewed her first book, Miracle in a Dry Season, last year.
Like Jody Hedlund, Elizabeth Ludwig, and Julie Klassen, Thomas isn’t afraid to let her characters get messy. They make bad decisions and have to deal with the consequences. Their journey out of those tight spots makes them strong and memorable characters. Their lives are a more accurate picture of what following Jesus looks like than you find in a lot of Christian fiction.
Mysterious gifts seem to be Thomas’ thing (Perla has an unusual gift in Miracle in a Dry Season), which I love because legitimate miracles aren’t very common in historical fiction, especially in the lives of ordinary people. That said, I would have liked to see a bit more solid discussion or explanation of Mayfair Hoffman’s healing gift. It plays a significant role in the story, but everyone’s understanding of it is fuzzy. Miracles are mysterious things to begin with, but there are a lot of questions surrounding her gift that go not only unanswered, but unaddressed.
Unfortunately, as with Thomas’s first book, the historical setting really tripped me up. The story takes place in West Virginia in the 70s, but with the prominent role of moonshine and illegal activities, it felt like prohibition-era fiction. But maybe that’s because I’m a Midwestern girl and don’t know much about moonshine or its history ;)
I enjoyed Until the Harvest, but not as much as Thomas’s debut novel. If you liked that one, read this one to learn about the legacy of the characters. If you haven’t read it yet, go do that first!
I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review. The opinions are my own and were not influenced by the publisher or author.