Author: Ann Goering – “Ann Goering is a four-time award-winning journalist who has worked as a senior editor/writer of magazines, newspapers and online publications since 2005. A theatrical production she wrote was performed on stage in 2005, and she was asked to co-write a screenplay for a Hollywood film in 2009.
She works for an international Christian ministry that specializes in relationships and evangelism to children, youth and families around the world. Her involvement in that has given her a heart for the broken, hurting and lost and a desire to see individuals and families operate in healthy relationships.
She has her degree in communications and enjoys writing Christian fiction and speaking to groups about the love of Jesus. She resides in the Ozark Mountains with her husband, whom she’s terribly in love with, their baby girl, Alija, and their fluffy white dog, Sheesha.” (Amazon)
General Info: Covered Porch Publishing, March 2014; 234 pages; Volume 1 in the The Shideezhi Collection
Summary: “One day. One hour. One accident. One fire. Everything had been lost in an instant. After enduring the loss of her husband, Raya Applewood is faced with the dilemma of returning to the comforts of life in her father’s home or following her destitute mother-in-law back to the East – a place she said she would never go. As she’s forced to come face-to-face with the struggles of life and death, decency and character, love and shame, Up From the Ash Heap tells a timeless story of loyalty, friendship, and blessed redemption.” (Amazon)
When I picked up this book, it was the cover and title that grabbed my attention. She is a beautiful, mysterious lady and I love stories about people overcoming the odds and succeeding in spite of difficulties. I gathered from the title that this would be a “pull yourself up by your boot straps” kind of story. I believe that I got this book for free or nearly free in a Kindle sale after reading the summary above. I had never read this author. Sometimes you just don’t realize when you have picked up a small treasure. I had no idea . . .
When the story begins it is 1870’s America and there has been a tragedy. The depth of this horror comes to light during the first chapter. The Applewood family had moved to Colorado Territory 13 years before and raised their three sons there. Each son had chosen a wife from the area – two from local Indian tribes, one from a downriver – from an East Indian family that owned a business. The father had passed away some years before. But there was a tragic accident and all three brothers were killed leaving Emaline, the mother-in-law, and the 3 daughters-in-law. Realizing that there was nothing left for her in Colorado, Emaline encourages the girls to return to their local families and she packs to return to the East.
At this point I am beginning to see a story unfolding that is very similar to a story I have known and read for years. The story is found in the Bible – the book of Ruth. It is the story of Naomi and, as I read, I began to connect with Naomi and Ruth in a way that I had never done before. I always knew the facts of the story, but I had never been emotionally gripped by the book. As I continued reading Up from the Ash Heap, I began to understand the difficulties and trials that Naomi might have endured. The connection was a very natural one, never seaming forced or stretched. I was inspired to study the book of Ruth as I read the book by Goering.
The two native American girls chose to stay with their families. They had not adopted the Christian religion of the Applewood family and the returned to their native families. Raya, the daughter of the East Indian merchant, had become a Christian during her 5 year marriage. She was only 20 at the time of the book, but she no longer felt close to her family and their foreign religion. She chose to stay with Emaline and they would return East together.
The rest of the book explores a beautiful friendship, a world of prejudice, a struggle beyond description, and an enduring devotion. The writing was beautiful and I was caught in the story – not in an “I can’t put it down” way, but in a “I’ve read all I can digest for now” kind of way. And so I would go and come and go and come and the writing would carry with me as I went about my day. It was a beautiful story of grace and love. Raya struggled with her confidence and self esteem, but never wavered in her character.
I give Up from the Ash Heap 4 hearts, not because it has a particular flaw. It does not. It is an excellent book and I highly recommend it. I gave the book 4 hearts because I was ready for the book to end. The story began to drag a bit and I was glad to finally put an ending to the story. It was a wonderful book and well worth reading. I was inspired to study the book of Ruth from the Bible and that is always a good thing. I was left full and satisfied, but ready to move on to the next book.
This book review was shared with Semicolon’s Saturday Review of Books. If you are looking for a new book to read, you will likely find way more than one from her list of reviews.
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