About the Book
Book: Shadows of the White City
Series: The Windy City Saga #2
Author: Jocelyn Green
Genre: Historical Christian Fiction
Release Date: February 2, 2021
The one thing Sylvie Townsend wants most is what she feared she was destined never to have–a family of her own. But taking in Polish immigrant Rose Dabrowski to raise and love quells those fears–until seventeen-year-old Rose goes missing at the World’s Fair, and Sylvie’s world unravels.
Brushed off by the authorities, Sylvie turns to her boarder, Kristof Bartok, for help. He is Rose’s violin instructor and the concertmaster for the Columbian Exposition Orchestra, and his language skills are vital to helping Sylvie navigate the immigrant communities where their search leads.
From the glittering architecture of the fair to the dark houses of Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods, they’re taken on a search that points to Rose’s long-lost family. Is Sylvie willing to let the girl go? And as Kristof and Sylvie grow closer, can she reconcile her craving for control with her yearning to belong?
Where do I begin with this story?! Shadows of the White City by Jocelyn Green is a rather turbulent read. Don’t get me wrong. I loved this book, but I think Green should have added the subtitle “or, Every Parent’s Worst Nightmare” so I had a warning for what I was getting into. Shadows of the White City has everything one comes to expect from a Jocelyn Green novel — a superb setting, complex characters who wheedle their way into the reader’s heart, a highly engaging plot, themes and messages that are timely and thought-provoking, and OUTSTANDING historical detail. But, the subject matter is HARD — a missing child. My mama’s heart struggled a lot and I did have to put the book down several times so I could hug my daughter and take a breather. A true testament to great fiction, Shadows of the White City is a story that readers won’t want to miss and won’t soon forget!
Sylvie is a character unlike any I’ve really ever read and I LOVE her. Reading Sylvie’s character, in many ways, was like looking in a mirror. Before my child was born I would not have considered myself a fear-filled person. But after Bella came, Fear became the greatest consistent battle of my life. I hate it when people tell me to “just trust God” as if this is the magic answer to solving the problem of fear. The truth is I do trust God, but I am also a realist and I recognize that my will and God’s will are often two totally different things. God is not a genie in a bottle and often my prayers don’t produce the results I want. You know why? Because God is the Boss, not me. Just because I pray for my daughter’s safety doesn’t mean God won’t allow something bad to happen to her. It’s a stinky fact of life, but in this I really do just have to trust God, which is often very hard.
There’s a glorious moment — glorious because this moment showed me I’m not alone in this world — where Sylvie and Kristof discuss trusting in God and Sylvie states, “I know [God] can. But will He?” A few lines further down she continues with, “I don’t doubt God’s ability. But sometimes I struggle to trust His timing.” YES!!! All that Sylvie is implying with these words is exactly how I feel. God is God. I know He is fully capable of swooping in just at the right minute and saving the day. But will He? Will His timing coincide with what I think is best? I mean how could it ever be OK to not save a missing child? Doesn’t everyone want that? But there are millions of cases of kids who disappear and who are never ever seen again this side of Heaven. How do we mamas and daddies wrap our minds around all the potential dangers out there in the world and NOT fall into some level of fear as we consider the best ways to protect our babies?
To trust God means that I recognize that sometimes I have to wait. Sometimes I have to be still. Sometimes I have to accept that there are things I cannot do anything about. This is where actual trust comes into play. I have to trust that in those scary moments where I have no power and where there is no move for me to make that God is working hard. Romans 8:28 tells us that God is ALWAYS WORKING everything together for the good of those who love Him. More times than not we do need to sit still and get out of God’s way. We moms and dads have to remember that God loves our kids more than we ever can, and we have to take peace in the fact that He’s got them no matter what. This might not take all the fear away, but it definitely allows some peace to enter our hearts. This is a great reminder I needed and I really appreciate watching Sylvie come to this conclusion too!
Shadows of the White City is a powerful story. This is not a novel to enter into lightly. When you pick up this beautiful novel understand that you are going to wrestle with a lot of hard truths. In my humble opinion, Shadows of the White City is a story not to be missed and I highly recommend it.
I received a review copy of this novel in eBook form from the author, Jocelyn Green, via NetGalley. I also received a paperback copy of this novel from the publisher, Bethany House Publishing, in order to read and review. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.