Friday, June 1, 2012

Review of "Skip Rock Shallows" by Jan Watson

Rating: 5 Stars
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Summary from Tyndale House Publishers: Lilly Gray Corbett has just graduated from medical school and decided to accept an internship in the coal camp of Skip Rock, Kentucky. Her beau, Paul, is doing his residency in Boston and can’t understand why Lilly would choose to work in a backwater town. But having grown up in the mountains, Lilly is drawn to the stubborn, superstitious people she encounters in Skip Rock—a town where people live hard and die harder and where women know their place. Lilly soon learns she has a lot to overcome, but after saving the life of a young miner, she begins to earn the residents’ trust.

As Lilly becomes torn between joining Paul in Boston and her love for the people of Skip Rock, she crosses paths with a handsome miner—one who seems oddly familiar. Her attraction for him grows, even as she wrestles with her feelings and wonders what he’s hiding.

Review: Since reading Troublesome Creek a few years ago, I have been a fan of Jan Watson's novels.  Her focus on small mountain communities often reminds me of Catherine Marshall's Christy. In Skip Rock Shallows, Watson portrays a grown-up Lilly Gray Corbett, a character familiar to readers of Watson's other novels. Lilly displays the same strength and determination that made her mother, Copper, such a beloved heroine. I feel like I have watched Lilly grow up, so I enjoyed reading her story and the trials she faces as a woman doctor in a backwoods town. Although Skip Rock Shallows can be read as a stand-alone novel, there are references to the events of the previous book, Still House Pond.  Lilly confronts the emotional scars that she formed in Still House Pond, and Watson reminds readers of their cause in Skip Rock Shallows.  

Watson's descriptions of small mountain towns never fail to captivate me.  Her words flow as melodiously as a bluegrass tune; sometimes tranquil and lulling, othertimes lively and fast-paced.  I loved the plot of Skip Rock Shallows and the balance it offered between action, faith, love, and emotion.  The combination of a female doctor, dangerous mines, colorful townsfolk, and a sweet love story, make the novel interesting from beginning to end. The challenges that Lilly faces as a female doctor add a high degree of interest to Skip Rock Shallows. In a few instances, the medical scenes were a bit too detailed.  Overall, they were mild and without graphic detail. The plot is not completely fast-paced, but there are moments of tension and danger.  In between, Watson creates characters that readers can relate to and care about, and their stories, trials, and lifestyles carry the novel and engage the reader. There is a strong sense of community evident within the pages, and it is easy to fall in love with the people of Skip Rock as Lilly interacts with them.  There are some characters that I would enjoy seeing in future novels. 

After reading Skip Rock Shallows, I definitely have a new appreciation for those individuals, both past and present, who dedicate themselves to the medical or mining professions.  I also have a renewed appreciation for Jan Watson's writing and the messages of faith and love that she conveys in a style that is uniquely her own and as charming as the mountains of Kentucky. 

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers through their book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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