“Saved. Alone.” These two heartbreaking words, telegraphed to businessman Gates Spafford as he waited for news of his wife and four daughters after their ship sank off the coast of Newfoundland, expose the sorrow and passion behind the lyrics of the well-known hymn “It Is Well with My Soul.” The faith that led Spafford to pen his poem, in defiance of the loss of his family, seems even more amazing in light of the tragedy he had already endured.
Finding Anna begins with the Spafford family fleeing the Chicago Fire of 1871, a hellish inferno that swept through the city and left over 100,000 people homeless. Amid scenes of horror that seem hauntingly familiar after our recent national tragedies, Gates and his wife, Anna, shed their self-sufficiency and cry out to God in their need. Yet throughout the following months, while Anna cares for the refugees sheltered in their home and Gates lends his energies to rebuilding the city, a more insidious calamity nearly destroys their family.
Although the opening is weak and somewhat confusing, the writing improves as the novel progresses. All in all, Finding Anna is a satisfying debut for Straub’s Music of the Heart series.