About the Book
Book: Ever Faithful
Series: Vintage National Park #3
Author: Karen Barnett
Genre: Christian Historical Fiction
Vibrant historic Yellowstone National Park comes to life in this romantic mystery about a man hiding the truth, braving the west to become something more–and the woman who must confront his deception.
A man who can’t read will never amount to anything–or so Nate Webber believes. But he takes a chance to help his family by signing up for the new Civilian Conservation Corps, skirting the truth about certain “requirements.” Nate exchanges the harsh Brooklyn streets for the wilds of Yellowstone National Park, curious if the Eden-like wonderland can transform him as well.
Elsie Brookes was proud to grow up as a ranger’s daughter, but she longs for a future of her own. After four years serving as a maid in the park’s hotels, she still hasn’t saved enough money for her college tuition. A second job, teaching a crowd of rowdy men in the CCC camp, might be the answer, but when Elsie discovers Nate’s secret, it puts his job as camp foreman in jeopardy. Tutoring leads to friendship and romance until a string of suspicious fires casts a dark shadow over their relationship. Can they find answers before all of their dreams go up in smoke?
I love Karen Barnett’s novels. They’re just SO good!!! Ever Faithful is no exception. In fact, I believe it is Ms. Barnett’s best story yet. The plot is highly engaging; I found I could not put this book down. There is just enough intrigue that it kept me turning pages well into the night. The characters are excellently crafted, and I found them to be quite relatable, especially Elsie. And the thematic elements are thought-provoking. A few times I had to pause my reading to contemplate my own feelings about the topics weaved throughout the narrative. All in all, Ever Faithful is a 2019 must-read for sure!
Elsie, the heroine of Ever Faithful, wants to be a teacher. Her whole life she’s dreamed of one day having her own classroom full of eager students. My most favorite thing about Elsie is how she views children. Very early on in the story, Elsie daydreams about teaching and when she considers her future students she internally states, “Every new student arrived with potential hidden inside, like the seeds sealed up in the cones from the lodgepole pine trees. It was her job to help them find it” (3). I love this sentiment so much and feel the exact same way about my students. Every time someone asks me what I do for a living I always get the same reaction when I say I am a teacher. At first, people smile in an approving manner. They’ll say, “That’s great. Teachers are awesome. What grade do you teach?” I’ll tell them 9th and 12th grade, and immediately their demeanors change. “What?! How could you teach that? Teenagers are awful!” I’ll smile and explain that I love it. And, honestly, I really do love teaching teenagers. Sure it has its ups and downs just like any other job, but to me, I’m surrounded by Elsie’s pinecones all day and every day. Showing kids what they’re capable of, watching them become the young men and women God means for them to be, is the best. I really do love my kiddos, even the ones who drive me a little crazy!
In addition to Elsie’s pinecone metaphor, I loved Elsie’s father’s pinecone metaphor to Nate. Ranger Brookes and Nate are discussing a recent fire that’s swept through an area in Yellowstone that Nate and his crew are working. All Nate can focus on are the negatives to the fire when Ranger Brookes tosses him a charred pinecone. He explains to Nate how a little fire is good for the cone. Fire cracks the cone and allows enough space for the seeds to pop out and create new trees. The potential in a charred, cracked cone is truly immense. Elsie’s dad wisely states, “Most of us ask God for an easy life. We even ask for it for our children. But sometimes it takes a little heat to break loose the seeds He’s planted deep inside us. Seeds we probably didn’t even know were there” (293). It’s a beautiful explanation for why we sometimes experience “fire” in our lives. Like Elsie believes with her students, God believes with us — we are ALL filled with potential, sometimes we just need a little something or someone to help us discover it.
Ever Faithful is a lovely story filled with endearing characters, gorgeous settings, and timely, thoughtful themes. I loved every minute of this story, and cannot recommend it enough. Purchase a copy of this novel today. You will not be disappointed that you did!
I received a copy of this novel in paperback form from the publisher, Waterbrook Multnomah, in order to review. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.