Award-winning author Lisa Wingate weaves an intriguing story with a dual timeline — a contemporary one involving a New York editor, the other involving a mixed-blood woman living in the Appalachians at the turn of the century.
In The Story Keeper, Jen Gibbs is a successful New York editor. Newly hired by Vida House, she is surprised to find an old manuscript on her desk. Glancing at it, Jen quickly finds herself drawn into Sarra’s story. The manuscript tells the story of Rand, a wealthy boy from Charleston, and Sarra, a mixed-race Melungeon girl.
Born in the South, she identifies with the rural setting in the manuscript. It takes place in the Blue Ridge Mountains, not far from Jen’s home, causing her to believe she knows the writer’s identity. Jen starts on a journey to contact the author, which leads to an intersection with her own Appalachian family roots.
She follows a hunch to locate the author and secure the publishing rights. When she goes to that region, Jen doesn’t expect to reconnect with her family. As Jen uncovers more details about the manuscript’s reclusive author, she learns valuable insight into her own past.
Faith is an integral element in this multilayered story within a story, as are the details to the history of the Appalachian Mountains and its peoples. Wingate does an excellent job in character development. Her characters grip your heart as the parallel stories are read, causing to one to ponder. The second story is printed in a different font, making it easier for the reader to keep track of which storyline is being read.
Recommended for adult collection in public and church libraries. The Story Keeper is the winner of 2015 Carol Award and 2015 Christy Award.
Carol R. Gehringer
–reprinted with permission, Christian Library Journal, 2015.