Through the Deep Waters
About This Book
A past filled with shame can be washed away with a love that conquers all.
Born to an unloving prostitute in a popular Chicago brothel, timid seventeen-year-old Dinah Hubley was raised amidst the secrets held in every dark, grimy room of her home. Anxious to escape, Dinah pursues her dream of becoming a Harvey Girl, waiting tables along the railroad in an upscale hotel. But when she finds out she isn’t old enough, her only option is to accept a job as a chambermaid at the Clifton Hotel in Florence, Kansas. Eager to put everything behind her, Dinah feels more worthless than ever, based on a single horrible decision she made to survive.
The Clifton offers a life Dinah has never known, but blinded to the love around her, Dinah remains buried in the shame of her past. When a handsome chicken farmer named Amos Ackerman starts to show interest, Dinah withdraws further, convinced no one could want a sullied woman like her. Despite his self-consciousness about his handicapped leg and her strange behavior, Amos resolves to show Dinah Christ’s love. But can she ever accept a gift she so desperately needs?
By far, this book’s greatest strength was its spiritual message about the power of forgiveness and learning to trust God with our deepest desires, even when it seems He is not going to fulfill them or take them away. Dinah’s salvation story highlighted the burdens of shame we so often fail to relinquish, but also wonderfully illustrated how forgiveness and salvation don’t mean we no longer have to face the consequences of our past actions. Amos and Ruth were two incredibly strong believers who struggled with loneliness, envy, despair, even anger at God, and succumbed to spiritual “ruts” along their journeys. Their realistic feelings really drew me and made me connect with them.
The dialogue was well-written and well-balanced with the prose. Each character had a unique voice to reflect their various personalities. The three main characters were quite real and empathetic, with very believable and relatable story arcs. Personally, I found myself relating to Amos’ long-suffering disappointment the most, but there is truly something for everyone in this cast of characters. I especially appreciated how they all had their ups and downs, even the lifelong Christians. Sawyer didn’t shy away from showing that it’s natural, okay even, to not always feel joyful, to express anger toward God, to doubt He is working for good in our lives. As my best friend is fond of saying, “It’s okay to let God have it. He’s big enough to take it.” And the characters in this story proved that true.
The research for this book was also very well done. Sawyer veered away from her usual fictional towns to use the real-life setting of the Harvey-owned Clifton Hotel in Florence, Kansas, and through it provided great insight into the unique Harvey system which really brought the story to life. I would love to see more of the Harvey Girls in future books.
Through the Deep Waters is filled with the gentle, homespun prose and tender romance one would expect from the pen of Kim Vogel Sawyer, but the first few chapters of this book were among the most shocking I have ever read in Christian fiction—and believe me, I like my stories on the edgy side. These opening scenes were brilliantly written, but were so different in tone and pace from the ones that followed that they almost felt like two completely different stories. It was like sitting down to watch Roxie Hart in Chicago, only to find ten minutes later that I was now watching Anne of Green Gables. Such incongruous pieces were just a bit too difficult for me to reconcile into one cohesive story. And when ninety-nine percent of the story would have made complete sense if the entire thing had been set at the Clifton Hotel in Kansas, with no opening scenes showing Dinah’s life in the Chicago brothel, I have to wonder why those scenes were included, if not for mere shock value.
Through the Deep Waters is not recommended for younger readers, and the hard-hitting opening may prove too much of a shock even for some of Sawyer’s most ardent readers. But if you pick up this book, by all means, stick with it. This thought-provoking, heart-wrenching, hope-infusing story was well worth the read, and stayed with me long after I turned the final page.
Available May 6, 2014 from WaterBrook Multnomah