Having written over 33 novels since 2006. Kim Vogel Sawyer is both prolific and successful. Mennonite, historical, contemporary and YA -- she has tackled all of these and delighted her readers with each endeavor. Through the Deep Waters, set in 1883, is one of her newest titles. Dinah, the young daughter of a Chicago prostitute, has never really known love, except through the kindness of the Yellow Parrot's cook, Reuben. When he suggests that she flee her surroundings and try a new start as a waitress in a Harvey Eating House, she listens. Despite being only 17 when the waitresses need to be 18 or over, Dinah leaves Chicago for Kansas and a chance for a new life. When the manager says he must strictly adhere to Mr. Harvey's rules and cannot make an exception for Dinah's, Dinah quickly accepts his offer of a temporary job as a hotel maid. As she settles into her job, Dinah hides from everyone her past, especially the shame of the one decision which she fears leaves her forever tainted and damaged. She certain that the Harvey establishments which require workers of good moral character would never give her a chance if they knew the truth. Despite her plan to keep her distance from everyone, she feels herself being drawn to Amos, the farmer desperately trying to build up a flock of chickens large enough to supply the Harvey Hotel. While others may be put off by his limp, she sees his kind smile, gentle nature, and essential goodness.
In a way, this book is a retelling of Dinah in the Old Testament, but essentially it is a romance novel.
Its Christian message of second chances through Christ's forgiveness and the subsequent acceptance of one's past is strong, although I felt the book moved a little slow. (I feel this about many "quiet" books, so keep that in mind.) While this is the story of Dinah and Amos, I really liked that Sawyer included strong secondary characters. Ruthie, Dinah's roommate at the hotel, could have been a minor character. Instead she has a major role in introducing Dinah to the community church. While it is clear that Ruthie is sweet on Amos, Sawyer did not take the common road of creating a "love triangle" with Ruthie being a jealous saboteur. Instead, Ruthie grapples with her feelings, seeks the help of her preacher father, and makes the decision to be a true friend to both Dinah and Amos.
If you have not read any Kim Vogel Sawyer books and you like Christian fiction, I suggest you seek out some of her work. Her website includes information on most of them, as well as a link to her blog.
I found my copy of Through the Deep Waters through our library system.