Book Review: The Root of the Matter by Lynne Basham Tagawa

Posted July 10, 2024 by meezcarrie in Book Review, Christian, dystopian, futuristic, historical, romance, science fiction, time travel / 1 Comment

The Root of the Matter book review

The Root of the Matter by Lynne Basham TagawaTHE ROOT OF THE MATTER by Lynne Basham Tagawa
The American Puritans #1

GENRE: Time Travel/Historical Fiction (Christian)
PUBLISHER: Blue Rock Press
RELEASE DATE: July 13, 2024
PAGES: 312

She’s terrified.
Time travel. The North Atlantic in winter. Which is worse?

Geneva Fielding is a researcher in the Archives of the Applied History department, prepping time travelers for their destinations. She loves the smell of old paper and chocolate croissants.

One day, a Traveler fails an important test and cannot go. Instead of canceling the Trip, the dean appoints Geneva and her friend Peter Donatelli, a physicist, to take his place. They have three days to prepare to Travel to 1630s New England.

Geneva’s always wanted to know more about John Winthrop. Maybe she can even get a dissertation topic from the Trip. But the truth is, she’s scared stiff. No one knows her private struggles. And she’s not about to tell.

Geneva and Peter are dumped into an early, struggling Massachusetts, the Puritan inhabitants having escaped the persecution of the Crown only to face a howling wilderness. Roger Williams’s arrival sends shockwaves through the frail colony.

Can the Bay Colony afford to allow a critic of the king to dwell among them?

And what will Geneva do when she discovers Peter’s secret?

From the moment I learned the premise of The Root of the Matter by Lynne Basham Tagawa, I knew I wanted to read this book. A whole department of time travelers? The heroine’s job is prepping them, courtesy of research, for their travel destinations? Something happens that has her stepping in for her first time travel, filling in for someone else, paired up for the journey with her male friend/colleague (yep, that sound is my romance-loving antennae whirring to full alert). Yes please! To all of it.

And then, once I did start reading this novel, I found a wealth of other layers that I wasn’t expecting but loved for the rich complexities they added to the story. For instance, the time from which Gen and Peter are traveling – the ‘present day’, so to speak – is set at some point in a dystopian future later in the 21st century. A world monitored by AI under the guise of making life easier but also where the words you speak, the food you eat, the people you spend time with, etc can be reported to the authorities if anything is a trigger within the government’s control parameters. Yet Gen and Peter are traveling to 1630s New England to learn more about the Puritans and their theological differences, a paradox I found really fascinating and one which precipitates Gen’s intelligent & tender journey toward Jesus. There are a lot more of those layers I could mention but I don’t want to spoil the discoveries for you.

Speaking of our hero and heroine, I loved both of their personalities (Peter’s steady integrity and quiet courage, Gen’s kind heart and relatability), and I was completely a fan of their ‘disguise’ as a married couple in a kind of forced proximity that’s unlike most we get to read about. Their friendship moving toward a romance isn’t a major focus of the story, though, and while I always enjoy a lot of sparks and kisses in this case I enjoyed watching them slowly begin to show readers their feelings (even if they don’t show each other). There’s something very sweet and innocent about it, and given the volatile times they live in and travel to, the pace makes sense. I look forward to seeing how it develops, though, as the series continues (because of course I do. None of you are surprised by this). Also…I need more of their friend Scott who came out of nowhere to become one of my fave supporting characters.

Bottom Line: The Root of the Matter by Lynne Basham Tagawa is an intriguing blend of dystopian/science fiction, time travel, and historical fiction with a dash of romance, poignant faith threads and complex layers. Real life figures from the earliest settlements in America intersect with the author’s imagination, and watching Gen & Peter navigate 1630s New England as time travelers kept me engaged just as much as watching them start to fall in love. Tagawa thought of details that I wouldn’t have and incorporated them creatively into the plot, including how to let Gen indulge in her chocolate cravings. I was fascinated by each element that came together to make this a uniquely compelling story, and I am already imagining what will happen in book two!

(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)

My Rating: 4 stars / enjoyed it!

KissingBook Level: 2 / warm rosy glow of sweetness

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Lynne Basham Tagawa

Lynne Basham Tagawa is an educator who pivoted midlife into writing with her narrative history curriculum, Sam Houston’s Republic. Then she dove into fiction with an eighteenth century series, the Russells. A former homeschooler herself, she contributes to homeschooling magazines like The Old Schoolhouse. She has been a guest on several podcasts, including Chautona Havig’s Because Fiction. Married with four sons and five wonderful grandchildren, she lives with her family in South Texas.

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