Wednesday, June 6, 2018

"Room for Hope" by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Neva Shilling and their young twin teens are waiting patiently for her husband’s return. Warren Shilling and Neva own and operate a general store in Buffalo Grove, Kansas. Warren travels for several weeks at a stretch, selling supplies, buying provisions, and meeting with customers. It’s 1936; the worst of the Depression may be over, but times are still hard. Neva’s faith has been her rock. 

Warren drives a horse and wagon for these trips, and Neva hears the familiar sounds of arrival. Except it’s not Warren; it’s a deputy sheriff from a town 40 miles away. He’s delivering a load of fine-quality furniture. He’s bringing news of Warren’s death from botulism. And he’s bringing three young children, Warren’s children from a bigamous marriage. The officer thinks Neva is Warren’s sister. He quickly suspects something else is going on.

Neva is going to need to hang on to her rock of faith as her entire world turns upside down.

Room for Hope by Kim Vogel Sawyer is Neva’s story. It’s also the story of her two children and the three she will take in, the story of the deputy sheriff Jesse Caudel, and the story of Arthur Randall, Neva’s neighbor and owner of the town’s furniture store, who would like nothing better than to get his hands on Neva’s store and combine it with his own. And Caudel brings more bad tidings – Warren may have been involved in a series of thefts of furniture and goods and even a bank robbery. Neva realizes that the clothes her children are wearing and indeed the store she operates may have come from thefts.

Kim Vogel Sawyer
Neva’s faith will affect all of these people in profound ways. It will also reshape Neva and the town of Buffalo Grove. 

Sawyer is the author of numerous Christian romance novels, with some 1.5 million books in print. She writes in several genres – historical, contemporary, Mennonite-themed, and Young Adult. She also has a speaking ministry. Sawyer and her husband live in Kansas, the setting for many of her novels (including Room for Hope).

Room for Hope isn’t a conventional Christian romance novel; in fact, the romance aspect doesn’t happen in what looks like the most obvious way. It’s the story of people struggling through extraordinarily difficult events, and how faith becomes important in shaping what happens and changing everyone involved. 

Photograph: A small-town general store in Kansas, similar to Neva Shilling’s store in Room for Hope.

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