Since my first introduction (Waves of Mercy) to Lynn Austin, I’ve certainly become a fan. I jumped at the chance to read Where We Belong. So yes, I was given a free copy of Where We Belong, but my opinions are mine. The only time I don’t like confessing my feelings about a book is when I didn’t like it. But even then, I value kindness and honesty in my review.
Book Recommendation: Where We Belong by Lynn Austin
About Where We Belong
In the city of Chicago in 1892, the rules for Victorian women are strict, their roles limited. But sisters Rebecca and Flora Hawes are not typical Victorian ladies. Their love of adventure and their desire to use their God-given talents has brought them to the Sinai Desert–and into a sandstorm.
Accompanied by Soren Petersen, their somber young butler, and Kate Rafferty, a street urchin who is learning to be their ladies’ maid, the two women are on a quest to find an important biblical manuscript. As the journey becomes more dangerous and uncertain, the four travelers sift through memories of their past, recalling the events that shaped them and the circumstances that brought them to this time and place.
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About Lynn Austin
For many years, Lynn Austin nurtured a desire to write but frequent travels and the demands of her growing family postponed her career. When her husband’s work took Lynn to Bogota, Colombia, for two years, she used the B.A. she’d earned at Southern Connecticut State University to become a teacher. After returning to the U.S., the Austins moved to Anderson, Indiana, Thunder Bay, Ontario, and later to Winnipeg, Manitoba.
It was during the long Canadian winters at home with her children that Lynn made progress on her dream to write, carving out a few hours of writing time each day while her children napped. Lynn credits her early experience of learning to write amid the chaos of family life for her ability to be a productive writer while making sure her family remains her top priority.
Where We Belong Struggles
Honestly, I’d rather skip this section, but I want to point out a couple portions of this book that bothered me. But honestly, these are just my personal struggles so they might not effect your reading at all!
- Long-winded monologues. Throughout the book, Lynn Austin had her characters passionately speak on a topic for an extended amount of time. To me, it sometimes came off as preachy. And yo, for the record, I’m not disagreeing with the truths shared. But, these preachy sections felt stilted and contrived.
- Simple fixes. A couple of the characters had some really big and difficult circumstances to deal with, and it just seemed like they were hurried into a fix. That pace threw me off since most of the book had a gentle slow-unfurling. The rapid bow tying at the end left me spinning.
Where We Belong LOVEs
So obviously, this is my favorite part of my book reviewing. I love gushing about amazing books. And Where We Belong certainly belongs in the amazing books category.
- The characters. Oh, man. I just loved Rebecca and Flora. Their adventurous spirits charmed me from the very first second. And I loved their commitment to their values. And I was often so jealous of their many travels. Now, I want to visit the Sinai Desert.
- Layering of story. Lynn Austin wins when it comes to the development of many layers of a story. Not only does she have the over-arching problem or question, but she has mini problems that keep the tension throughout the story. Where We Belong is not short, but I wanted to read it all in one sitting.
- Faults. And yes, this belongs in this section. Flora and Rebecca (and Soren and Kate) aren’t perfect. In fact, Flora deeply regrets a few choices that she makes. And, I certainly can relate. I love that Lynn Austin created strong characters who were likeable while still having faults.
Cordially Barbara’s Review of Where We Belong
On a scale of cotton candy to Brussels sprouts, Where We Belong by Lynn Austin is sourdough bread. Sourdough bread requires many days of preparation as the starter must be given time to grow. This preparation creates a delicious bread with a crusty outside and a slightly sour yet delicious flavor.
Rebecca and Flora grow up without the care of a mother during the 1800s. Their father values smart and resourcefulness so the girls become not-so-conventional Victorian ladies. Set on adventure, Rebecca and Flora want to figure out how to best use their lives. Rebecca is set on finding ancient documents that will prove the Bible’s truth while Flora longs to care for Chicago orphans. Will Rebecca and Flora figure out how to save two orphans and themselves when stranded in the middle of the Sinai desert?
Okay, okay. So it’s really hard to sum up a book written by Lynn Austin. She does such an excellent job of exploring the breadth of life for her characters. Told from four different perspectives, Where We Belong explores life destiny and purpose. While I loved the deep development of the story, I got distracted by occasional preachy monologues and I thought that a few things ended too simply. But of course, this is only my opinion, and overall, I loved this book. And now, I’m itching to travel more than I did before!