Monday, January 25, 2010

Kelly's Chance by Wanda E. Brunstetter - REVIEWED

ABOUT THE BOOK: (from the publisher)

Life for Kelly McGregor is a daily drudge of driving her overbearing father’s mules along Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Canal. She dreams of one day owning an art gallery where her own drawings and paintings are on display. But these dreams don’t include marriage. . .not after seeing what her father has done to her mother. How then can Mike Cooper, a general store owner, make her realize he is different than her father and wants to support her artistic talent? Will Kelly learn that dreams can walk hand in hand with a love created by God?


Kelly’s Chance is the first non-Amish book I’ve read by Wanda Brunstetter. Set in the late 1800’s, Brunstetter takes a look at the life of a young woman who has grown up under the harsh hand of a canal worker. Kelly McGregor leads a pair of mules mile after mile as they pull her father’s canal boat, and she must do so with no pay and no show of gratitude from her father. Her mother doesn’t fare much better as she must stay on the boat with her ill-tempered husband and make sure that his meals are prepared and that his boat is well-supplied. The only hope either of these women have in their lives is their faith, and at the point we meet Kelly, her sister has run away to be married, and Kelly’s faith is left in tatters.

God is moving in the McGregor’s lives as well as the life of store-owner Mike Cooper. Mike has been praying for God’s direction in his life regarding marriage and a family, and it seems his prayers have been answered when Kelly walks through his door. However, he quickly learns that Kelly’s heart has little room for his affection, because her heart’s desire is to paint and open her own art gallery. Their relationship begins with about as little hope of success as Kelly feels she has of ever being set free from her tyrannical father.

Wanda Brunstetter’s novel is the first in the Brides of Lehigh Canal, so you know from the beginning that a romance will take center stage in the story. Mike and Kelly’s relationship has a difficult time from the outset, but their difficulty is the story line that pulls the reader toward the ending. Kelly’s Chance was an easy read, and I have to be honest and admit it felt more formulaic and predictable than any book I’ve read in quite some time. The story was okay, but a lot of the elements didn’t feel realistic and toward the end the relationship felt super rushed toward a conclusion. Thus the ending…well, it was predictable. That said, I’m going to move on in my reading and leave you to decide whether or not to pursue this series. You can read more details here.

Wanda enjoys writing about the Amish because they live a peaceful, simple life─something she says we all need in this day and age.

Using the knowledge her Amish friends have shared with her, Wanda has also produced several children’s titles in the Rachel Yoder─Always Trouble Somewhere series, an Amish cookbook, and a devotional collection entitled The Simpler Life, which was released in July 2008 and celebrates the virtues of the Amish lifestyle. Wanda and her husband are members of the fellowship of Christian Magicians.

Wanda is also a member of the North American Association of ventriloquists, American Christian Fiction Writers, and the Northwest Christian Writers Association. She lives in Washington State, where her husband pastors, but takes every opportunity to visit Amish settlements across the country.

Other books by Wanda are A Sister's Test, A Sister's Hope, and A Sister's Secret