This sequel is set in Depression-era Illinois, just after Emma’s Gift. Samuel and Julia Wortham find it difficult enough to provide for their own two children, not to mention the ten motherless Hammonds from a neighboring farm, who visit often. Then Samuel’s ex-convict brother Edward arrives with a young child in tow, insisting that Katie is Samuel’s illegitimate daughter. Sam denies the accusation, and Julia wants to believe him, but the problems of Katie’s identity and family loyalty toward Edward test their marriage and their faith.
The daily struggle to feed a family in pre-supermarket days during bad economic times is portrayed vividly. Making a meal out of a mess of greens, a few potatoes, and a half-burned cake. Having to think long and hard over whether to kill a chicken for dinner guests. Samuel, Julia, and Edward’s characters are well-developed, and I liked the way the ending was true to real life, without resorting to neatly-tied-up plot resolutions or “all is forgiven” relationships. The minor quibble I had was that all the children were a bit too well-behaved and obedient for believability. An excellent example of Christian fiction. For maximum enjoyment, read the other two books in the series first.