I’ve been wanting to get Belonging by Robin Lee Hatcher ever since it was published a few months ago, but I had enough books stacked up to last til Christmas, so I put in on my Christmas list and made myself wait til then, when I did indeed find it under the tree.
If the book had been authored by anyone but Robin, I probably would not have picked it up based on the plot of a new schoolteacher coming west to make a life for herself. When I first began reading Christian fiction some 30 or so years ago many books had this element to them. But I’ve enjoyed others of Robin’s books, and they have a soft spot in my heart because they’re frequently set in Idaho, where my husband grew up. But just a few pages into this one I forget about any other plotline involving going west.
Felicia Kristofferson lost her mother at a young age and was sent with her brother and sister on an orphan train until they were each taken in to separate homes in separate cities. Felicia grew up in the home of an older couple where no love was expressed: she was really more of a housekeeper and caretaker. She went to college to become a teacher but afterward stayed with the Kristoffersons til their deaths. When she hears of an opening for a schoolteacher in Idaho, she heads west despite the small amount of pay, trusting God to lead and keep her.
Colin is a widower with a young daughter who is not happy about the school board hiring an inexperienced young single female teacher. He assumes she’ll marry at the first opportunity, leaving the board and the students in another upheaval to find a new teacher. But his daughter, Charity, takes to Felicia immediately, and he reluctantly decides to give her a chance. Colin is also not on the best of terms with the God who took his wife from him.
Though Colin has no desire to marry again, he can’t help but notice the attractive widow Kathleen has been especially friendly toward him (at her mother-in-law’s urging). It would make sense for them to marry in many ways, yet he can’t help finding himself attracted to the new schoolteacher in spite of himself.
Felicia, meanwhile, doesn’t understand why Colin is warm toward her sometimes and gruff and distant at others or why her friend Kathleen’s mother-in-law seems to be sowing seeds of discord against her.
Felicia, Colin, and Kathleen each have issues to work through, which, of course, makes up the plot of the book. I did enjoy their journeys, especially Colin’s. I love how Robin doesn’t write “just” a romance story, but rather a “life” story, dealing with the deeper issues in people’s hearts and their walk with the Lord.
(This review will also be linked to Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books.)