Disclaimer: Until the Harvest by Sarah Loudin Thomas was provided by Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.
When family tragedy derails Henry Phillips’s college studies, he’s left unmoored and feeling abandoned. The only things that can tamp down his grief are the family farm, his fiddle, and an unexpected friendship with sweet but unusual preteen Mayfair Hoffman. Unfortunately, Mayfair’s older sister, Margaret, despite her spray of freckles and cut, turned up-nose, has a completely different effect. His grandmother’s caretaker, Margaret, is always around, ready to push his buttons, and it seems at first that she doesn’t care about his troubles. Henry soon realizes, though, that Margaret’s facing her own struggles. Mayfair’s health and unique gift sit at the heart of those worries. Henry and Margaret soon find themselves relying on each other as potential tragedy collides with growing hope in a warm story of family bonds and the surprising ways healing finds us all.
Until the Harvest has an overall decent look at how the death of a father affects a son (and, more generally, how death affects anyone), and I thought Thomas did a good job of depicting Henry’s initial downward spiral, although it would have been more effective if Thomas had done more showing rather than telling.
I do think that Henry’s struggle with his father’s death was the most realistic and well-done part of the book. I’m a bit bemused as to why Thomas bent over backwards to avoid using the word “sex” in a novel for adults, but that part of the novel was handled well, too, even if it was obvious. I also like the considerable amount of ambiguity involving that part. It’s not often that Christian novels leave things ambiguous.
I didn’t really understand the necessity behind Mayfair’s “gift” and I thought it tended to lessen some of the impact that certain events had. And I got really irritated when the consequences of Henry’s hunting adventure were significantly lessened because it just felt way too convenient. It’s cool, I guess, to have that sort of healing aspect to the story as a whole since modern Christianity (certain parts, anyway) tends to be skeptical of that sort of thing, but I honestly believe that the story would have been better if Mayfair had been a normal little girl. It would have allowed much more room for symbolism.
I also wish that there had been a bit less jumping around in time at the end of the novel, as I thought it considerably lessened the impact of several choices the characters make. Henry’s choice between music and the farm is supposed to be an important one, but it felt considerably less so when we stayed with Margaret and time-jumped.
Until the Harvest is a decent book, especially in regards to the way it approaches death and its effects, but Thomas tells too much and Mayfair’s gift is a little too incredible to be believable (not to mention actually takes away from the story).
My rating: 3/5
Genre: Realistic, Christian
You can buy this here: Until the Harvest