Author’s Note: We were provided with a review copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Plot & Storyline Quality (2 points)
Elizabeth Byler-Younts, a fairly new face in the world of Christian fiction, has just written a breakaway novel that departs from the themes of her previous books. This new book, titled The Solace of Water, is rather daring and raw compared to her previous style. In this novel Byler-Younts takes on several challenging topics, these include segregation in the northern states, family dysfunction, trauma, alcoholism, unforgiveness, and hidden sin in the church. All of these are complex singularly, but all together they are almost impossible to portray. Byler-Younts does an admirable job of tying all of these issues together to create a unique storyline, however, it could use a little fine-tuning. The Solace of Water tells the story of three people, Delilah Evans, her daughter Sparrow, and Emma Mullet. Delilah Evans leaves her son Carver’s grave, and a part of her heart behind when her husband decides to move their hurting family back to his hometown of Sinking Creek, Pennsylvania. She decides to hide from this reality by lashing out at the last person who saw Carver alive…Sparrow. Sparrow blames herself for the traumatic death of her little brother Carver. Her act of disobedience haunts her night and day, and she doesn’t know how to escape her dark thoughts. Emma Mullet is tired of her life, tired of the secrets, the constant lies, and the pain. She’s tired of hiding her husband’s dirty secret. He’s an alcoholic tasked with the responsibility of brewing the communities’ Communion wine. The problem is, this responsibility only created a new opportunity to get a fix. As these three women face increasing crises, they will have to break down their walls to find a way forward. To find out what happens to Delilah, Sparrow, and Emma, read the book!;) Dysfunctional family systems are accurately portrayed in this novel, and the darkness of secret sin is not whitewashed, rather, the raw way that Byler-Younts writes is both refreshing and a bit sensational. However, her style could use a little honing, for not everything that is here said should be. Furthermore, the story is a bit choppy and rushed. All in all, The Solace of Water rounds out to an average score.
Character Development (2 points)
Delilah, Sparrow, and Emma are mostly well developed through the use of first person. They are also relatable and realistic. In addition, the secondary characters have a clear purpose throughout the story. The reader is able to feel the emotions and struggles of each character and sympathize with each of their choices and reactions. The main flaw to point out here is that their plights are a bit overdramatic at times and the characters are left unfinished. In addition, I personally feel that the story contained too little hope and too many mentally distracting sequences. It took a bit too long to point all the suffering back to Christ. While the story ends well, there is little hope given in the in-between. Therefore, Byler-Younts earns an average score here as well.
Creativity & Originality (1 point)
Finally, Byler-Younts earns a full point in creativity for spearheading the absurdity of most Amish fiction by creating IMPERFECT Amish characters. Furthermore, she points out how the tight confines of religion often lead to secret sin. The important truth that forcing someone to believe in God leads to a desire to rebel against anything to do with Him is clearly stated and well-portrayed. Therefore, I believe that this novel has plenty of potential to be a revolutionary Christian film in the hands of a skilled creator. In the hands of someone like the writers of Priceless and talented director Ben Smallbone, this average novel could be a life-changing film. These filmmakers have already proven that they can handle a gritty topic tastefully, so they would be my first choice.
Wish List rating: 5 out of 10 points