Jen Gibbs is a successful editor at Vida House publishing in New York. She has just taken this job and is looking forward to continued success. A manuscript mysteriously appears on her desk that she tries not to read, but cannot keep herself from looking at it. It is twenty years old and she is certain that it comes from the “slush mountain”, a huge pile of unsolicited manuscripts that are destined never to be published. As she begins to read, she becomes aware that it is from the Appalachian Mountains that she was raised in and called home until she went to college. As she is drawn into the story, only eight chapters are in the manila envelope with no author’s name, she feels compelled to find the author and read the rest of the book and possibly get it published. She makes a convincing plea to her boss, the intrepid George Vida. Off she goes to the mountains, perilously close to her hometown where her family still lives. She is in pursuit of just a few minutes of time with the man whom she believes to be the author of the novel. The ensuing happenings that take place during her stay are the meat of the story. The Story Keeper is filled with the connection between her past and the history of the characters in the manuscript. Jen is pulled into the story of Sarra, a mixed-race Melungeon girl and Rand Champlain, the preacher who takes her safety to heart, which is also the heart of the story. It was difficult for me to get into this book at the start. It is an interweaving of the old manuscript and Jen’s modern day story. The Blue Ridge dialect was difficult for me to read and understand. I felt myself losing interest since I was not getting the full meaning from the parts with the dialect in them. The hook came for me several chapters in when the story became personal for Jen. As I read on, the dialect became easier and the writing more compelling so that, by the end of the book I was thoroughly involved and ended the story with a lump in my throat. An excellent story, well told was my reward for staying with it. Lisa Wingate has also given us a profound glimpse into the lives of the Appalachian people. I give The Story Keeper four stars!
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher Tyndale, in exchange for my honest review. These words are my opinion.