by Catherine Richmond
Book DescriptionSophia has her life all planned out—but her plan didn’t include being jilted or ending up in Dakota Territory. Sophia Makinoff is certain that 1876 is the year that she’ll become the wife of a certain US Congressman, and happily plans her debut into the Capitol city. But when he proposes to her roommate instead, Sophia is stunned. Hoping to flee her heartache and humiliation, she signs up with the Board of Foreign Missions on a whim. With dreams of a romantic posting to the Far East, Sophia is dismayed to find she’s being sent to the Ponca Indian Agency in the bleak Dakota Territory. She can’t even run away effectively and begins to wonder how on earth she’ll be able to guide others as a missionary. But teaching the Ponca children provides her with a joy she has never known—and never expected—and ignites in her a passion for the people she’s sent to serve. It’s a passion shared by the Agency carpenter, Willoughby Dunn, a man whose integrity and selflessness are unmatched. The Poncas are barely surviving. When U.S. policy decrees that they be uprooted from their land and marched hundreds of miles away in the middle of winter, Sophia and Will wade into rushing waters to fight for their friends, their love, and their destiny.
I read a lot of historical fiction but this is the first one I've read that includes history of a particular indian tribe showing how "Americans" tried to civilize them. I say that lightly because they are and always were Americans - they were here first after all! The story was very captivating too - well written, wonderful characters, good history! The character of Sophia was a strong, spunky woman - not often heard of in the 1870s. She was a native of Russia who came to America when a little girl - now a teacher. Her heart was broken when a man she (and everyone else) assumed was courting her for marriage jilted her by proposing to her roommate. She signed up to be a missionary with hopes of being sent to China. However, she ends up as a missionary to the Ponca Indian tribe in the Dakota Territory. She, and the readers, fall in love with the gentle people who only want to save their native land where their deceased are buried. The government, however, wants to move them into new lands. Will, a carpenter who is also working at the Indian Agency feels the same about the tribe as Sophia does. The story goes through the trials they endure - hunger, cold, useless "annuities" from the government, death, raids, etc.
I really enjoyed this book - it breaks my heart to see how our forefathers ran the Indians out of lands that truly belonged to them. The book dwells on how the workers at the Agency, Henry (preacher), Will (carpenter), James (Agency head), Sophia (teacher) and Nettie (Henry's mother) come to love the people they are helping. The work they do does come to fruition of a sort in the end but not without loss, worry, death and lots of prayers. Of course, Will and Sophia fall in love as well.
One quote from the book - one that led to the books title - is this: "Ignore the rushing water.....ignore everything that tries to pull you under or knock your feet out, of obscures your view. Plant your feet on the solid rock." The quote is written in the context of climbing a waterfall but it certainly is applicable to our lives - the lives of Christians everywhere. We have a Solid Rock to stand on and HE is always there. I give this book a five out of five stars - 5 out of 5.
NOTE: I received this book from Thomas Nelson publishing via the BookSneeze book review for bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review and I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's guidelines.