Sunday, July 08, 2012

The Gifted

I apologize for the lateness of this posting. It was due last week, but my laptop crashed, and I had to borrow my mom's in order to get this up. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I will be back online again soon!

The Gifted by Ann Gabhart is the fifth book in her popular Shaker series about the unusual religious group of the 19th century. Jessamine Brady is a true innocent in the world. The first half of her of life was spent living with her granny, isolated in the woods and listening to the old woman's fairy tales and stories about the Lord. The last half of her life has been spent among the Shakers. When Jessamine was just ten, her granny died, leaving her alone in the world, so she was taken in by the community. She loves working with her hands and worshiping the Lord, but poor Jessamine has never been able to completely follow all of the rules as set forth by the Shakers. She has stories and songs that fill her heart, but are forbidden as sinful, and she has a deep curiousity about the outside world, especially on this one day, parasols, which leads her deeper and deeper into the woods, hoping to encounter White Oak Springs, a fashionable spa where the ladies are known to carry them. Instead of seeing a parasol, Jessamine finds a man who appears to have fallen off of his horse after being shot at. He claims to have no memory of who he is, and Jessamine can't quite seem to keep her hand from touching his face and enjoying the feel of the stubble on his face. Tristan Cooper did indeed lose his memory at first and thought he had been discovered by an angel. Later when his memory returns, he decides to keep that knowledge hidden while he recovers in the Shaker community in order to find out just who would be shooting at him and why. Tristan and Jessamine can't seem to stop thinking about each other, so she is soon in trouble with the elders for breaking too many rules, and he is sent on his way back to the world. Gabhart is terrific at recreating the mysterious world and religion of the Shakers, and she manages to do so without being overly negative about some of their stranger practices. Jessamine is such an innocent that everyone (including readers) who meet her can't help but be drawn to her sweet nature and love of life. Tristan is more of a cipher, despite Gabhart's attempts, I couldn't quite get a grasp of just who he was, and I felt the same way about Sheldon Brady. Because I couldn't relate to either of them, this book didn't have the power for me of previous books in this series. Something was missing just a bit in this volume, so it isn't up the five star status of the other books, but it's still a fascinating read.

Available July 2011 from Revell, a division of the Baker Publishing Group at your favorite bookseller.

Thank you to Revell for providing me with a copy of this book for review!