UNTIL THE HARVEST
"Once in a while a new author...makes you sit up and take notice."--"Library Journal" When a family tragedy derails Henry Phillips's college studies, he's left unmoored and feeling abandoned. Although Henry tries to find escape in bad company, the only things that can tamp down his anger and grief are the family farm, his fiddle, and sweet but unusual pre-teen Mayfair Hoffman.
Unfortunately, Mayfair's older sister, Margaret, with the freckles and cute, turned-up nose, has the opposite effect. Worse, she's his grandmother's housekeeper and helper, so she's always around and ready to push his buttons. At first he thinks she doesn't care about his loss, before beginning to understand she's facing her own struggles. Mayfair's health and unique gift sit at the heart of those worries, and Henry and Margaret soon find themselves relying on each other as both Henry's future and Mayfair's life are put at risk.
Until the Harvest is set in 1975-76 which makes it just on the cusp of being considered historical fiction (up to the end of the Vietnam War -- April 1975.) Though I found it to have a real 1930s vibe, perhaps because of the rural setting.
This is Book Two in the Appalachian Blessings series but reads well as a standalone. If you have read Miracle in a Dry Season you will recognize Perla and Casewell and that's where I ran into difficulties because the author really messes with my preconceived happily ever after for those two.
So my heart hurt during this read. A lot. I don't regret reading Until the Harvest, it was just hard in places. Really hard.
For one thing, Henry is not the son I envisioned for them. I mean if you had Perla and Casewell for parents wouldn't you turn out perfect? LOL. Okay, so that's very unrealistic which makes this a very true to life kind of story. Because, honestly, really good parents have kids who do really stupid things. Kids who don't recognize how good they have it. How much they are loved. How blessed their childhood has been. Sigh. That describes Henry to a T. He's headed in the wrong direction, allowing bitterness and anger to dictate his actions.
I did not like Henry. In fact, I was prepared to dislike him until the bitter end, but Thomas weaves her magic and pretty soon my defences started to crumble. Though there is an awesome scene where Margaret finally lets him have it -- a scathing paragraph that I loved so much I read it several times over. Take that Mr. Self-Absorbed Henry Phillips!
Which brings me to Margaret. Wounded but steadfast. She has emerged from a difficult childhood with an inner strength that is inspiring. One of the delights of this book is watching her blossom under the multi-generational friendship with Henry's mother and grandmother.
And then there's Mayfair, Margaret's fragile little sister. She brings an ethereal quality to the tale. The unexpected anchor for so many people battling life's storms. The sweet purity of her faith brings a special kind of healing.
Emotionally engaging (infuriatingly so at times) -- a memorable story ultimately filled with hope.
If you would like an opportunity to win a copy of Until the Harvest please leave a comment below or email me at kavluvstoreadATyahooDOTca. If you post a comment and add your email address, please use AT and DOT instead of @ and . in the address to protect yourself from spammers. If you enter the draw via email please remember to put the title in the subject line so that it's easy for me to spot your entry. Draw will be held and winner announced on Sunday August 23 2015. Offer open to international readers. Good luck!