ROOTS OF WOOD AND STONE
SERIES: Sedgwick County Chronicles #1
GENRE: Inspirational Dual Timeline Romance
RELEASE DATE: February 3, 2021
This historic home holds the keys to their destiny . . . and their hearts
Abandoned at birth, her family roots a mystery, historical museum curator Sloane Kelley has dedicated her life to making sure others know theirs. When a donor drops off a dusty old satchel, she doesn’t expect much from the common artifact . . .until she finds real treasure inside: a nineteenth-century diary.Now she’s on the hunt to find out more.
Garrett Anderson just wanted to clean out his grandmother’s historic but tumbledown farmhouse before selling it to fund her medical care. With her advancing Alzheimer’s, he can’t afford to be sentimental about the family home. But his carefully ordered plan runs up against two formidable obstacles: Sloane, who’s fallen in love with both the diaries and the house, and his own heart, which is irresistibly drawn to Sloane.
A century and a half earlier, motherless Annabelle Collins embarks with her aunt and uncle on the adventure of a lifetime: settling the prairies of Sedgwick County, Kansas. The diaries she left behind paint a portrait of life, loss, and love–and a God who faithfully carries her through it all. Paging through the diaries together takes Sloane and Garrett on a journey they never could have planned, which will change them in ways they never imagined.
This warm, beautifully written split-time novel will resonate with readers looking for stories that reveal the beauty of God’s plan for our lives, and how our actions ripple for generations
Oh y’all. This book. I smiled. i laughed. I swooned. I cried (even sweet-reason ugly-cried at one point). I actually gasped out loud a time or two. It gently embraced some sore places in my heart and healed them a little too. And I drank in every word from beginning to end in one sitting, unable to put it down until the end – and then immediately regretted that my time with these characters & this story was finished for now.
Sloane and Garrett – and their respective journeys – are relatable and easily loved. Readers will adore them as individual characters but even more so together, as their friendship develops and begins to shift into something more romantic. I also found so poignant the juxtaposition of Sloane longing to discover where she came from even as Garrett struggles to preserve what he can of his own family history while also trying to do what’s best for his grandmother (more on that in a moment). As far as the historical thread, Annabelle’s story is so captivating and Jack is quite yummy. He’s the cause of most of my swoons in Roots of Wood and Stone – and some of my tears too. Sloane & Garrett both become so invested in unearthing Annabelle’s story that it’s difficult for me to separate the story threads for review purposes. Instead, the author seamlessly weaves the past & present together in such tender and beautiful ways that you really can’t have one storyline without the other.
As much as I loved solving the mystery of Annabelle along with Sloane and Garrett and watching them fall in love, I wanted to touch on the two elements to Roots of Wood and Stone that really set this novel apart for me. Garrett’s grandmother has Alzheimer’s, and typically I steer away from stories with this as a plot because of how deeply my family’s life has been touched by this horrible disease. Both of my own grandmothers (whom I was very close to) suffered from it. Watching Garrett and his sister interact with their grandmother touched a part of my heart that I’ve basically avoided since my grandmothers’ deaths. One scene in particular between Garrett and his grandmother and hymns had me sobbing with sweet memories of similar scenes with my own grandmothers, and I know this sounds odd but it was just such a soothing release, a release I didn’t know I needed. The mix of absolute tenderness and realism with which the author depicted Alzheimer’s Disease is one of the most accurate & honoring portrayals I’ve read in a novel. I’m so glad I decided to read it anyway!
The other element that I connected so strongly to is the theme of researching family history, of knowing where you came from and who helped shape you into who you are. My grandfather was a family history buff and nurtured that same bug in me, and I have had such fun over the years digging into my family tree and unearthing the stories that go with the names. This quote from the book is one I’ll include in my research materials, as a reminder of why I’m so passionate about genealogy work:
“A few names get all the attention, but the ones who don’t show up in the textbooks are just as important. We owe it to them to learn their stories. Sometimes it helps fill in our own blanks.”
Bottom Line: Roots of Wood and Stone is a phenomenal, touching debut that will linger with you long after you’ve turned the last page. Wen delivers a tender message of hope and restoration, while never overwhelming the story with preachiness or cliches. Tough situations and justified emotions are handled with grace, wisdom, and aptly-placed moments of joy and love. The past and present combine organically in this story that’s full of romance, family, and faith, and it has a firmly-secured spot on my top reads list for 2021! Very much looking forward to more time with these characters in future books.
(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the publisher. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)
My Rating: 5 stars / in a class by itself!
KissingBook Level: 4 / keep those fans and fainting couches handy!
Amanda Wen is an award-winning writer of inspirational romance and split-time women’s fiction. She has placed first in multiple contests, including the 2017 Indiana Golden Opportunity Contest, the 2017 Phoenix Rattler Contest, and the 2016 ACFW First Impressions Contest, among others. She was also a 2018 ACFW Genesis Contest finalist.
In addition to her writing, Amanda is an accomplished professional cellist and pianist who frequently performs with orchestras, chamber groups, and worship teams, as well as serving as a choral accompanist. A lifelong denizen of the flatlands, Amanda currently lives in Kansas with her husband, their three adorable and hilarious Wenlets, and a snuggly Siamese cat. Roots of Wood and Stone is her debut novel.
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