Monday, June 25, 2012

Through Rushing Water by Catherine Richmond

Sophia has her life all planned out—but her plan didn’t include being jilted or ending up in Dakota Territory.

Sophia Makinoff is certain that 1876 is the year that she’ll become the wife of a certain US Congressman, and happily plans her debut into the Capitol city. But when he proposes to her roommate instead, Sophia is stunned. Hoping to flee her heartache and humiliation, she signs up with the Board of Foreign Missions on a whim.

With dreams of a romantic posting to the Far East, Sophia is dismayed to find she’s being sent to the Ponca Indian Agency in the bleak Dakota Territory. She can’t even run away effectively and begins to wonder how on earth she’ll be able to guide others as a missionary. But teaching the Ponca children provides her with a joy she has never known—and never expected—and ignites in her a passion for the people she’s sent to serve.

It’s a passion shared by the Agency carpenter, Willoughby Dunn, a man whose integrity and selflessness are unmatched. The Poncas are barely surviving. When U.S. policy decrees that they be uprooted from their land and marched hundreds of miles away in the middle of winter, Sophia and Will wade into rushing waters to fight for their friends, their love, and their destiny.

Through Rushing Water by Catherine Richmond was an interesting and truly novel that chronicled the sad story of the Ponca and the growth that Sophia experienced. The plot line was well written and clearly displayed the plight of the Poncas as well as their incredible faith and strength through the hard times. The story centered around Sophia and her growth as a person and her finding the truth about God and ministry. Because of this, I felt like the story reached its climax halfway through the book when the Poncas were forced to leave instead of in the last fourth of the book as is typical. This caused the last third of the book to really drag for me and it was not nearly as interesting and spellbinding as the rest of the novel.

Despite this, I enjoyed the effort and research that the author put into discovering the truth about the Poncas and realistically portraying their forced way of life by the Americans. The suffering that the Poncas endured at the hands of white men made me extremely sad, and their wise response and their trusting in God despite it all left me speechless. I was glad to see some of the Poncas take their story public and force the government to make a change to their policies.

The main characters were well developed while some of supporting characters played the stereotypical roles one finds in many stories involving Indian and white men interactions. Will and Sophia both showed astounding and touching love and respect for the Poncas and continued to speak on their behalf even after the Poncas were forced to move. Will was a godly man who lived what he believed and ministered and taught more Poncas about God than the snobby minister. Henry, the minister to the  Poncas, was the stereotypical ''missionary'' to the minister who cared more about "Americanizing" the Poncas than ministering to the people and teaching them about God in love. However, he did begin to change as the story went on and by the end was acting out of love and treated the Poncas with respect. Sophia was a spirited and determined woman who, though she became a missionary teacher for the wrong reasons, soon discovered that she loved the Poncas and realized that simply memorizing prayers does not make a relationship with God. She realized that she had to have faith in Him and pray from her heart.

Overall, I really enjoyed this novel and learning more about the Ponca people. While it was sad to read about their mistreatment, the courage and boldness they displayed to the Americans was truly inspiring. I highly recommend this novel for anyone wanting a romantic yet historical read.

I received this ebook for free from Thomas Nelson Publishers through in exchange for an honest review.

1 comment:

  1. Renn, Thanks for your great review of Through Rushing Water. Being a missionary to the Poncas must have been an incredibly difficult assignment. Most missionaries stayed at the Ponca Agency only a few months. How could you preach about a loving God when the supposedly Christian government kept breaking promises and sending scoundrels like Kemble?
    Blessings on your mission, Renn!