In Katie’s Dream, author Leisha Kelly weaves an engaging tale of a family struggling to endure the hardships of the Great Depression. Samuel and Julia Wortham are raising their two children, running a farm, and helping their widower neighbor with his rambunctious family of ten, all while wondering how their meager resources will carry them through the winter. In an unwelcome intrusion, Samuel’s ex-con brother Edward arrives at the Illinois farmhouse with a young girl whom he claims is Samuel’s illegitimate daughter. Firmly protesting his innocence, Samuel and Julia search to find Katie’s true family, hoping to answer Edward’s accusation of Samuel’s unfaithfulness.
The story is told from the viewpoint of both Samuel and Julia, with chapters alternating narrators, which allowed me to experience the multiple of emotions of the characters, each from his or her own perspective. Kelly skillfully leads the reader through a maze of feelings, including doubt, anger, humiliation, confusion, and, finally, forgiveness, love, and acceptance. I particularly enjoyed the development of tension in Samuel’s relationships with Julia, Edward, and Katie, as he processed different struggles with each of them and tried to resolve the doubt, hurt, and bitterness that arose.
My favorite aspect of the book is the evolution of Julia and Samuel’s marriage as they go through this difficult time. Julia initially refuses to believe Edward’s accusation, determined to remain loyal to her husband and firm in her belief that Samuel’s character proves that he would not have been unfaithful to her. As the story progresses, however, doubts begin to creep into her mind. How did Katie’s mother know to give the name Samuel Wortham to Edward if her husband has never met the woman, as he claims? Could Edward simply be lying, and, if so, is Katie’s remarkable resemblance to Samuel simply a strange coincidence? Ultimately, her trust in Samuel and their marriage is put to the test, as well as her own ability to forgive.
Although it is the third in a series of novels, this book can stand alone because the background is presented well enough that I didn’t feel like I was jumping into the middle of a story. Even though events from the previous books do come up, the author is careful to give enough information to avoid confusion and to allow the reader to follow the story. Initially, I was somewhat overwhelmed by the abundance of characters, as all ten of the neighbor children are active in the story in addition to the Worthams, their immediate and extended family, neighbors, and residents of the nearby town. By the end of the book, though, I was enjoying the antics of the supporting cast and appreciating the lightness they brought to the book.
A light, leisurely read, this book is an entertaining, touching, and satisfying story of faith and mercy. While I think that mothers with young children will especially identify with the challenges of the Wortham family, any reader who enjoys historical fiction with an aspect of reality and faith woven in will appreciate this story. Examining the trust required in marriage, the simple longing of a child for security and love, and everyone's need for forgiveness, this is a worthwhile trip into the farmland of the Depression-era Midwest.” — Lauren Denton, Christian Book Previews
She wanted a father. They wanted the truth.
In 1932, a small-town Fourth of July celebration delivers more than just a display of fireworks for Samuel and Julia Wortham. As they return from the local festivities, the Worthams find that Samuel's brother, Edward, is out of prison and at their doorstep. And he 's not alone. Surprise turns to shock and confusion as Edward introduces a young girl named Katie and declares that Samuel is her father.
As Samuel fights for his innocence against a brother who delights in antagonizing him, the rest of the family struggles to find the truth. Will Julia believe Samuel's declarations of faithfulness? Will Katie find a home with the Worthams? Can Samuel and Julia's faith survive this troubling test?
This sequel to Julia's Hope and Emma's Gift is a gripping story of truth, forgiveness, and reconciliation that will keep readers on the edge of their seats until the very end.