Tara Johnson. Engraved on the Heart. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2018.
Many of the historical fiction books that I read in high school were almost exclusively set during the Civil War. After a while, I almost actively avoided most books set during that time period, just as a result of near burn-out on my part. Fortunately, my reading options vary much more now and I could thoroughly enjoy this week’s book.
In Engraved on the Heart, Keziah Montgomery hopes to meet her parents’ social expectations on the eve of the Civil War. Savannah, Georgia, becomes a hot-bed of Confederate fervor, even as the members of the Underground Railroad are hard at work to ensure the safety of those put most at risk. When Keziah unexpectedly encounters her childhood friend, Dr. Micah Greyson, he opens her eyes to the abolition movement and those closest to her who need help. Keziah must choose between her parents’ views and those she encounters through the abolitionists she meets. However, her precarious health may become the greatest barrier to determine her path and following God’s will.
Ms. Johnson’s debut offers a different look at the people and choices made during the Civil War. Keziah and Micah’s battles resonate throughout this unique tale.
Overall, I quite enjoyed reading Engraved on the Heart. Ms. Johnson has an accessible writing style that many readers will find to be particularly approachable. In comparison to many books set during the Civil War, Ms. Johnson presents a different perspective by limiting her focus on the military aspects, while ensuring that they are a vital part of the story’s pacing and event sequence. Likewise, her characters present contrasting perspectives of the war’s events, including both the abolitionist and anti-abolitionist movements active in the American South during that period. For readers who enjoy medical history, Engraved on the Heart presents a socially-oriented perspective on Keziah’s struggles with epilepsy, even though the story is relatively light on medical details (especially considering Micah’s training as a doctor). This novel serves as one of several released this summer that features a main character with a significant medical condition, which I find to be an interesting trend. In general, I thought that Ms. Johnson did a good job with this novel and I look forward to seeing what she writes in the future.
Fans of Christian historical fiction, particularly set during the American Civil War, will definitely find Engraved on the Heart to be well worth reading. Likewise, those who are interested in stories that focus on the abolitionist movement may find this story to be of interest.
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