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Katie's Dream    by Leisha Kelly order for
Katie's Dream
by Leisha Kelly
Order:  USA  Can
Revell, 2004 (2004)
* *   Reviewed by Anise Hollingshead

Katie's Dream is the third in a series of novels by Leisha Kelly. It chronicles the lives of Julia and Samuel Wortham in Depression-era Illinois, as they struggle to raise their two children and also help out with their neighbor's children, who've just lost their mother. Just as they thought life couldn't get any harder, a surprise package arrives.

Samuel's brother Edward, fresh out of prison, shows up one day out of the blue with a little girl in tow, claiming she is Samuel's illegitimate child. Samuel maintains his innocence, but only Julia believes him. Edward, in particular, gives him a very hard time for what he imagines is a life of hypocrisy on Samuel's part, as Samuel is a devout Christian, the only one on his side of the family. Katie, the little girl, is caught in the middle, as her mother has abandoned her. While Samuel and Julia are willing to have her stay and live with them, they also want to find out just whose child she really is.

There is plenty of drama and action, as Edward keeps turning up to stir the pot, in his role as the 'bad seed'. Samuel is a pacifist for the most part, but Edward is pretty successful at pushing his buttons, so that Samuel is often tempted to forget God's teaching about conflict resolution. To complicate matters, many people believe that Katie is Samuel's child, despite his protests to the contrary. Edward provides a perfect foil for the Worthams as the worldly pagan whose life reflects an inner hopelessness, contrasted with his brother's sustaining faith in God, two dramatically different approaches to the same life situations.

The characters' backgrounds and motivations are revealed in more depth in this third novel, and readers will learn much more about Samuel's childhood, which was horrendous at times. In comparison, Julia's life was pretty smooth before she married. Their reactions in various situations are mostly believable, but Julia's saintly sweetness is a bit of a stretch. Not because of her belief in her husband, but because of her enormous patience at all times with the hordes of needy children surrounding her. Real moms would either have little eruptions here and there, or have a big, ugly blowout before long. To further complicate matters, it is the Depression, and these folks have no money, and not much food, despite living on a farm. Food for the winter is a primary concern, never mind finding money for new shoes for the kids, who've just been increased by a new addition, Katie.

This book belongs to the genre known popularly as Christian Fiction. While I am a Christian, I'm not a big fan of the genre, as most of it is a) romantic fiction, which I don't care for, and b) full of a forced, unnatural type of Christianity which isn't really like real day-to-day lives. Frank Peretti is the one exception, a very good author of Christian suspense novels. Having said that, Leisha Kelly has done a superb job of portraying the Worthams as normal Christians, who live their lives much the same as I and my fellow believers do, with ups and downs, but always with the underlying belief in God, that manifests itself here in more subtle ways than other books in this genre show.

The prose on the whole is good, and the action flows smoothly most of the time. The dialogue is sometimes awkward and clunky. The story is suspenseful and interesting, and readers will keep reading to the end to find out exactly whose child Katie is, and to know more about Samuel and Edward. Katie's Dream is a good choice for most readers, and those new to the series will want to pick up the previous two novels.

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