THE WIND BLOWS IN SLEEPING GRASS by Katie Powner
GENRE: Contemporary Fiction (Christian)
PUBLISHER: Bethany House
RELEASE DATE: September 26, 2023
For the first time in his life, Pete has everything to lose.
After years of drifting, fifty-year-old Pete Ryman has settled down with his potbellied pig, Pearl, in the small Montana town of Sleeping Grass–a place he never expected to see again. It’s not the life he dreamed of, but there aren’t many prospects for a high-school dropout like him.
Elderly widow Wilma Jacobsen carries a burden of guilt over her part in events that led to Pete leaving Sleeping Grass decades ago. Now that he’s back, she’s been praying for the chance to make things right, but she never expected God’s answer to leave her flat on her face–literally–and up to her ears in meddling.
When the younger sister Pete was separated from as a child shows up in Sleeping Grass with her eleven-year-old son, Pete is forced to face a past he buried long ago, and Wilma discovers her long-awaited chance at redemption may come at a higher cost than she’s willing to pay.
“Katie Powner brings both humor and heft to the page as she celebrates simple pleasures and not-so-simple love.”–JULIE CANTRELL, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Perennials
“Everything God makes has value, whether we choose to see it or not.”
The Wind Blows in Sleeping Grass is regrettably my first read by Katie Powner but it will absolutely not be my last. I was immediately captivated by the author’s smooth writing voice, the almost tangible setting, and the array of incredibly compelling characters – the ones with two legs and the ones with four (or three, as the case may be). But most of all, what drew me to this story – and what continues to keep me thinking about it – are its many poetic paradoxes.
Pete Ryman is a contradictory blend of rough-around-the-edges and the-soul-of-a-creative, and it’s a far more endearing mix than I anticipated. Despite his tragic & violent past and because of his tender care for the ragtag group of friends and family he’s gathered since returning to Sleeping Grass, Pete is the kind of person I’d want in my corner. I just wanted to reach in through the pages and give him a big hug, on several different occasions, and the same is true for the other eclectic characters that make up his inner circle. Pearl, his loyal potbellied pig with a fondness for getting into mischief. Windy Ray, his oxygen-tank-carting, tiny-3-legged-dog-owning, rock-collecting best friend. Miss Wilma, an octogenarian on his garbage collection route who’s been keeping her share of secrets. Lily, the timid & enchanting woman on his route with a bully of a boyfriend. Dani and Braeden, Pete’s sister and 11-year-old nephew who unexpectedly invade his life and his heart. In his own quiet way, he rescues each one of them in some form or fashion and they – in turn – rescue him.
This rescue from both sides isn’t neat and tidy, though. On the contrary, there’s a metaphor to be found between his chosen occupation and the situations he encounters. The beauty of Pete’s story is in this messiness, that same Divine paradox that we see on the pages of Scripture and in our own lives if we’re being honest. The Wind Blows in Sleeping Grass beautifully illustrates this poetry of grace, with the layered characters you’ll come to love and the events that bring them all together. And therein lies the final beautifully poignant paradox that has prevented this story from leaving my thoughts since I closed the last page… because sometimes what heals us also breaks us apart.
Bottom Line: The Wind Blows in Sleeping Grass by Katie Powner is the kind of book to sink into, to peel apart layer by layer until you’ve not only uncovered the obvious treasures but the hidden nuggets to ponder as well. This character-driven novel wrestles with some heavy issues without being a heavy story, soothing all the heart-bruises with a little humor and a lot of affection. It’s about real faith, real doubt, real joy, real sorrow, real regret… and real healing. The author’s impeccable skills as a storyteller are evident from the first page to the last, and I expect this book to linger with me for quite some time.
(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 / fantastic!
Katie Powner (www.katiepowner.com) is an award-winning author who lives in rural Montana, where cows still outnumber people. She writes contemporary fiction about redemption, relationships, and finding the dirt road home. She’s a mom to the third power (biological, adoptive, and foster) who loves red shoes, Jesus, and candy–not necessarily in that order.
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