4 out of 4 stars
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Water Bearer, by Wendi Christner, is the first book in the Southern Skies Collection. Set in the northern hills of rural Florida, it is a Christian fiction romance novel. Cassidy, the female protagonist, is plagued with guilt for setting the fire that killed her parents seven years earlier. Now that she has graduated high school, she is ready to leave town and never look back. That would be a whole lot easier if it weren't for Jared.
Literally the boy next door, Jared Walker is Cassidy's lifelong best friend. Unlike Cassidy, all of Jared's post-high school plans center around staying planted in his hometown to help run his family's farm. Jared longs for Cassidy to stay. Cassidy yearns to escape the shadow of her family tragedy. Both desire to make more of their friendship, but neither wants to do so only to have to cut ties once the summer is over. Will they walk away with regret or take the plunge and see where their love will lead them?
This book has numerous strengths. It is well-edited. I only found a handful of minor mistakes. The character development is superb. One of my favorite characters is Willetta Wilson. She is a whiskey-drinking, tobacco-chewing older lady who is constantly coming up with 'cures' for Cassidy that are supposed to help heal her from her sorrow. The plot is thoroughly engaging. I didn't want to stop reading. Also, the book is short, so it is great for those who struggle to find time to read.
My favorite part of the whole book is how the author weaves the theme of forgiveness throughout the story. Cassidy can't forgive herself for past mistakes. Some of the citizens of the town also look down on her or make jokes about fire at her expense. There is a point where Cassidy feels betrayed by Jared. By working through the process of forgiving him, her perspective about forgiveness is transformed for the better.
While this is a Christian fiction book, readers should know this book is basically about characters who happen to go to church. There isn't a large focus on scripture or doctrine. As such, some people of other religions or non-religious people would also enjoy this tale.
Considering I can't think of any improvements for this book, I joyfully give it 4 out of 4 stars. Readers should know there is no profane language. Sexual themes are included but are written tastefully. I recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of Christian romance fiction.
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