3 out of 4 stars
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Pioneer life in Kansas was anything but easy. Eloise and her family struggled to make a living off the land with its nutrient-poor soil causing their efforts to fail. Despite the hardships, her parents' love supported Eloise through her childhood and taught her the many skills she would need to survive. But what will Eloise do after she becomes the last living member of her family?
A generous family in town takes her in and gives the 17-year-old girl a chance to find her way, but Eloise must learn to accept their gifts and pass on the blessings to others in need. Join Eloise as she navigates the trials and challenges of frontier life in Eloise of Westhaven by Jean Archambault-White.
I thoroughly enjoyed this historical coming-of-age novel. The author captured my attention with a fantastic female protagonist who was ready and willing to learn, work hard, and practice her faith. I loved that the author provided thoughtful insights about loving others, growing up, respecting others' feelings, and many more helpful life lessons. The author packaged each bit of wisdom in an easy-to-digest manner that would resonate with young readers and satisfied me with the inspirational takeaways woven carefully into the captivating scenes throughout the book.
My favorite part of the novel was the developing relationship between Eloise and David. The author see-sawed back and forth, leaving the reader in suspense about how things would turn out. Would they become best friends in a brother-sister-like way? Or would they develop romantic feelings for each other? I was hard-pressed to guess which way it would go, and I was satisfied with the author's decision. I also adored the passages that focused on Eloise's ability to work with unruly children. I felt like the pranks and discipline in these sections provided the best opportunities to learn the wisdom the author wanted to pass on. These sections also showed Eloise at her best, a patient but determined young woman with a good head on her shoulders.
There was nothing that I disliked about the story, but unfortunately, I noticed quite a few proofreading errors. While these minor issues did not detract significantly from the book's readability, I had to reduce the rating. Therefore, I give Eloise of Westhaven three out of four stars.
I recommend this fantastic novel to readers of all ages, especially those who seek faith-based historical fiction. The author shares simple biblical faith throughout Eloise's journey and encourages the messages of loving others and generosity. The existence of no strong language or erotic content made the book well-suited for middle-grade and young adult readers. Fans of Janette Oak and other inspirational fiction writers may also enjoy this book.
Eloise of Westhaven
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