Working in the massive cave might allow Rebekah the chance to bring joy back to her family.
But will it claim more than it gives?
After tragedy leaves its mark on Rebekah Hardin s family, she plans to help her parents and six siblings honor her beloved brother’s memory and alleviate their poverty by working as a guide in the dangerous cave system. Kentucky’s renowned Mammoth Cave presents profitable opportunities for hardworking, capable”men.” But Rebekah is determined and if it means presenting herself as a”himself,” then she’s up to the job.
Under the wing of experienced guide Tolly Sanford, Reb begins to learn the complexities of the cave and the two are joined by an aspiring young cartographer, Devlin Bale.
The university student has traveled to the hill country to map tunnels, not to fall for a girl in disguise. Can the God who designed miles of underground astonishment shape Devlin’s ambitious plans and free Reb from the weight from the past?
This has become my favorite book from the 1900’s. Filled with romance, drama, and a healthy dose of knowledge, I wasn’t ready to let the book go when I hit the acknowledgements. The worst feeling is when you think you still have several more pages to exist in a book’s world, then realize that those pages are just the acknowledgments. 😭 You know that feeling.
One of my fears is of enclosed spaces. I like to be free and surrounded by air, and honestly I would go shoeless if I could because I hate my feet being enclosed too. Weird, I know. Anyways, I never go in caves because not only are they enclosed, but there are cave-ins that can trap me even more. However, the book described the caves so beautifully, capturing both the creatures and the crystals, that I immediately wanted to visit Mammoth Cave. I still would never enter the cave, mostly for the sake of preserving people’s eardrums down there when I would start screaming at every noise (and probably cause a cave-in while I am at it). Disclaimer: I am not usually overdramatic
One of my favorite things about the book was Rebekah’s family. She had so many little sisters, from adorable Little Nellie to sassy (and annoying) Cissy. The best scenes were when Rebekah returned home on Sundays from working as a guide at Mammoth Cave, though I did love those Devlin and Rebekah moments. 😉 Her parents quickly became my favorite fictional parents, especially her father, who was so loving of his daughters and gentle. They were both so strong and trusting in God. I loved their random and small talks about God and finding strength in him, and even if that isn’t your religion, they’re comforting.
Now I will talk about those Devlin and Rebekah moments (because we all know we are all really here for the romance 😏). I think the most refreshing thing about them was that their love was not instant, which is more realistic. They were both young adults, so didn’t ignore the impossibility that they could be together (Devlin being a rich Senator’s son and college student and Rebekah being a hills girl). However, their differences didn’t stop them from loving each other. Even Rebekah dressing as a girl and helping guide Devlin through the caves didn’t discourage him. He was a gentleman constantly, comforting Rebekah when she was sad and respecting her parents.
Devlin was misguided in the beginning of the book. He hoped to map the Mammoth Cave as his college project, but also secretly put together information for his father to use for his compaign to have the government seize control of Mammoth Cave for the money. If the government took it, they would also take the lands of the people living around it (but pay them), and from Rebekah’s side of view, not even money would appease her and the people. The people cared about their land more than wealth, since their ancestors had fought for it and they would not want any other land than theirs. I found this difference between them that was even bigger than themselves and the typical drama between people to drive the plot and their love.
This was a beautiful read, and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction and the underlying theme of faith. Even if you are not interested in the parts about faith, there are very few, but I think it’s important thing to mention since it was such a driving force in the novel. The book is so beautiful and descriptive, making you feel like you’re part of one of the tour groups making their way through the cave and marveling at the white fish and shimmering crystals. It’s an experience I would go through again and a perfect book to reread.
I recieved this book from Blogging For Books for this review, which does not impact anything I have said about it!