Some traits run in families, and in the case of the Savage family, the writing gene is alive and well. New novelist Deanne Blackhurst is the sister of celebrated author J. Scott Savage, a.k.a. Jeffrey Savage. With "Turning Hearts," Deanne follows in her brother's footsteps, although her LDS fiction drama is very different from Scott's latest works with the Far World fantasy series.
In "Turning Hearts," we read about a young woman named Amanda who is getting ready to marry Jake, the ideal guy. But when she has a strange dream one night, she realizes that she's not quite ready for marriage and would like to serve a mission first. She talks things over with Jake, and while he's disappointed, he honors her wishes to postpone the marriage until she returns.
Once Amanda is in the mission field, she finds herself facing challenges she hadn't anticipated. She struggles with difficult companions, investigators who are hot one minute and cold the next, and she reaches out to Jake as he grows ever more distant.
In the end, Amanda feels as though she did what she set out to do, but perhaps the heart that was turned most of all was her own.
I found this novel enjoyable and well written, although I did wish there had been more to it. I didn't feel as though I got to know Amanda well enough at the start, and it would have been easier for me to understand her motivations had a little more time been spent on character development in the first chapter. The conclusion seemed like a bit of a stretch to me, rather than the ending of a natural path, and there were quite a few similarities between this novel and the LDS film, "The Errand of Angels." All that said, I did find it an entertaining read, and I do think this new author will do well. She has a firm understanding of the mechanics of writing and I feel we'll be seeing a lot of her in future.
This book was published in 2010 by Covenant Communications and I received a copy for free in exchange for my review.