04 July, 2013

Book Review || Storm Over the Prairie

I've just finished reading a book called 'Storm Over the Prairie', by Kathryn L. Wrote. I bought this book at an op shop just over a year ago for the grand sum of fifty cents, and I've read it quite a few times since then.    It's quite an old book - copyright 1982 - so I'm not sure if it's still in print or not...Anyway.

This book tells the story of Marta. Marta grew up as the second youngest child, and only girl in a family of eight children. Marta was a hardworking young tomboy, who loved nothing more than to be with her horse, Beauty. She and Beauty would go for Sunday afternoon walks to the lake. When Marta gained her Father's permission to enter the cross-country horse race, she and Beauty practised for it every day on a secret course in the valley. On the day, Marta was in the lead, headed for the finish line, when someone's dirty little trick came into effect. Marta won the trophy, but Beauty was dead. In her heart, Marta wondered how a loving God could take away her only friend.

Marta put horses out of her head and began to take an interest in school and the other topics her classmates discussed. She started going to dances, and spending time with a young man named Abe Stiltmeir. She enjoyed his company, and often went to the trouble of making herself new dresses for the picnics they went on together. One moonlight night Abe told Marta that he loved her, and wanted her to be his wife. Memories came rushing back to Marta about the last time she had allowed herself to love something. She couldn't allow herself to love Abe.

But after several months, Marta's friend convinced her to come to another dance. And at the dance was Abe. They found themselves alone outside. 'I love you too' Marta said. They began making plans for their marriage. Marta and her mother made the dress and sewed sheets and quilts in preparation.

One day as they were sewing together, Marta's mother told her some interesting history. Marta's mother had grown up in Germany, and married a German man. They had had two children, a boy and a girl. But her husband was killed, and when she later married Marta's  father and moved to America, her parents insisted that the children stay behind. Marta had a sister.

Not long after that, and before the wedding, Marta's mother died. Marta felt as if part of her were being buried along with her mother's form. She felt she had nothing left to give Abe. She wondered why God, if there was a God, chose to take away her mother.

Life went on and a few months later they were married. Life took on a new meaning for Marta. Sometime later Marta found out she was pregnant. She had seen her mother almost die giving birth to Marta's younger brother, and she was scared. But she gave birth to a healthy girl, whom they named Mary.

As Mary grew older she became an object of war between her parents. They were fighting against each other for her affections. Because Mary preferred the outdoors more than cooking and cleaning, Abe usually won. And Marta  and Abe's relationship deteriorated. As Marta's father lay dying he pleaded with Marta to make things right.

Things did get better, and soon Marta discovered she was pregnant again. Mary was ecstatic at the prospect of having a new brother or sister, and when Willie arrived the two were inseparable. When Willie was about two, Abe and Mary took him down to the pond to go paddling. Abe went out a bit deeper, leaving Mary in charge. But Willie choked on a stone, and before Abe could do anything, it was too late.

Marta was distraught and decided if that was what God was like, she'd rather not have anything to do with him. She made Abe promise that they would raise Mary without religion. And so it was. But one day a preacher came to town doing revival meetings. The girls at school were all talking about it, and Mary wanted to go. Marta grudgingly let her. Mary went, and received Jesus into her heart. She was thrilled with her new found saviour and spent every spare moment devouring her Bible. But Marta wanted nothing to do with God, or any religion, and Abe sided with Mary. Their relationship and home was, once again, crumbling.

One day Marta received an unexpected letter. The return address was 'Frankfurt, Germany.' It was from her long-lost, in fact never known, half sister. Marta had a sister. Here was a gift she understood. 'For the first time in her life, Marta talked with God.'

This is really only a short book - 119 pages - a brief account of Marta's life. So it doesn't read exactly like a story book. And while it might have sounded a bit like it to begin with, it is not a love story. It is the story of Marta's gradual rejection of God, and then her acceptance of him. I like this book because it shows that, even though it might not look like it, God still understands and cares about us.

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