Bethany House Publishers
Morning Sky is the second novel in Judith Millerís Freedom Path, a series of books set in Kansas in 1880, following the lives of African-American and Caucasian families. When Lilly Verdue comes to visit relatives in Nicodemus, an all-black community, the Harbans find their lives invaded. As they try to impress upon Lilly the importance of God, they begin struggling with their own faith, as well as a few major life-changing challenges.
Morning Sky uses the same style of writing as a modern-day soap opera, with many different stories going on at once, all with their own bits of interwoven drama. While Lilly is trying to cope with new life on the prairie after leaving New Orleans, her brother-in-law, Ezekial, is trying to keep her from making trouble in his town and also in Hill City, an all-white community housing some of the black people as servants. While this, as well as many other incidents, goes on in Kansas, Macia Boyle is in New York attending a school with a very sinister secret. The climax of the story hits near the middle of the novel when a startling piece of information is revealed, turning the story around for a few chapters.
As Jarena Harban struggles with the loss of her sweetheart after a war with Indians, a mother who has passed away, and the caring of her father and her younger twin sisters, her faith in God sways back and forth, which confuses her understanding of life even more. She tries to teach Lilly about trusting God and being willing to forgive, but soon finds it difficult herself to offer forgiveness. A multitude of problems drop on her at once, leaving her with difficult choices and causing her to reject the family she knew her whole life. It all becomes too much for her to handle.
Jarena is a black teenage girl who grew up Christian. She has been taught to trust God no matter what. She is needy, yet is always serving others, and she never wavers in seeking God for help, as do many other characters, leaving most of them with only minor human flaws that are overly exaggerated. The dialogue is also a bit awkward, the characters need to be more carefully delineated to avoid stereotyping, and plot development should be less predictable.
The concept behind Morning Sky is sound, but, overall, the book moves slowly, the characters are flat, and the human struggles are not very compelling. Given this, I was let down by the craftsmanship of the story. However, fans of Judith Millerís other books may like this one, as may folks who love historical fiction in general. Ė James Holstein, Christian Book Previews.com
When Aunt Lilly Verdue arrives in Nicodemus, Kansas, during the early summer of 1880, life for the Harban family changes dramatically. Ezekiel Harban is not at all happy to see his sister-in-law, and her unwillingness to admit the reason behind her hasty exit from New Orleans only fuels the fire. Lilly is not content to peacefully fit in to the little farming community. No, she shakes things up when she decides Moses Wyman is engaged to marry the wrong girl. And then she reveals a secret that will forever alter the Harban sisters' long-held assumptions.
Back east, something sinister is happening at the school Macia Boyle's mother insisted her daughter attend. When Truth Harban travels to New York to accompany an ill Macia back to Kansas, she uncovers a deadly plot against the wealthy young women who attend the academy. Can Truth get help before it's too late?