Book Review: Unending Devotion by Jody Hedlund

Unending Devotion is another book which I received through the blogger’s program with Bethany House Publishers. I have to say before I continue that I really like this program. Thinking about what I would say about a book if someone asked me what I thought of it is somewhat new to me (reading has always in the past been about learning or personal enjoyment). It has also helped me to grow as a writer, as I am looking closely at other people’s writing and deciding what I like or do not like about it.

This book opened with a daring rescue scene, so there was a good hook to draw the reader into the story. The protagonist, Lily Young, is on a quest to find her runaway prostitute sister. She supports herself in this mission by assisting a photographer as he goes about different mining camps, taking portraits of the workers. When she and Oren (the photographer) arrive in Harrison, Michigan, she begins to hear clues that she might be near her sister. She doesn’t catch on to those clues right away, though. Eventually, she meets Connell McCormick, the logging company owner’s son, who helps her in her quest, though not exactly happily at first.

The plot presents as a mystery, not revealing certain information to the reader, or to the protagonist, right away. Unfortunately, nothing is really a surprise. It is the spiritual plot that I found a bit more interesting. Lily is a do-er. She wants to make things happen, especially concerning her sister. Connell is a hard worker. He wants to keep his head down and focus on his task, ignoring anything negative or immoral that is going on around him. Lily needs to learn to wait for God’s timing. Connell needs to learn that there are times when we must speak up for justice and righteousness. The way the author wove that into the story was rather good.

I was not thrilled with the almost-propagandaish feel of the book (renouncing prostitution and especially forced prostitution). Allow me to assert that my dislike of the message is not the message itself, but the strength of the message; when I read, I like to do so for enjoyment and for the plot and characters’ growth, and so on – not for the messages that the author wants to get across to the readers. It simply isn’t my cup of tea.

That said, I did enjoy the book. The characters grew, learning something about themselves and about God during their journey. The author was quite knowledgable of Michigan logging camps in the late 1800s, as well as the photography process of that time. The plot was well-crafted, if a bit predictable. However, sometimes it’s good to know what’s going to happen next, as we often do not in real life.