Period Pearl: Then Came Hope by Louise M. Gouge


 The Civil War is over.
 She wants to get far away from her cruel former mistress, but the world beyond the plantation is a frightening, unknown wilderness.
 He has fought the good fight in Union blue; now he must fight his way home through a hostile, defeated South.
  Delia was born a slave and then physically and emotionally battered all of her seventeen years. Finally free, she strikes out on her own, making friends with a little band of former slaves and a handsome black soldier, Ezra Johns. Certain that God has brought Delia into his life, Ezra wonders how he can help her realize her true value. Delia's heart feels drawn to Ezra, but she struggles for feelings of worth and happiness. A long and arduous journey takes this rag-tag band of survivors through a violent flood, bitter southerners, hunger and exhaustion under a blazing summer sun, and even a murder charge and near-lynching.
  With the help of two humble white farmers, they at last earn train fare to Boston.
  Back in his home city, Ezra completes his education. However, he discovers that despite his service to his country, black men still must struggle for respect and a place in American society. His only hope for a promising future is to go West. But now that Delia has found her own success in the city, will she leave her new found happiness, and go with Ezra into the wilderness?
  A story of courage and resilience in the face of fierce opposition and the triumphant dignity of the human spirit

  This book amazed me by its realism and its tenderness. It is written from the former slaves' point of view and I couldn't help but sympathize with their fears and hurt. However, even among them, there was a quite definite line that separated those who had put their trust in the Lord and those who were trying to make it on their own. Between them is Delia. Too scared to trust anyone, and yet so scarred by her past that she needs help badly. This help only God is able to give her. And this Ezra along with the other believers of their little group try to show her. Neddless to say, when Ezra falls in love with her, he is the most tender, protective and romantic hero. He tries to handle her very carefully, so as not to scare her, even when his protective instincts cause him to battle with anger against those who abuse her. 
  Though I have never had the experience these people had, I too have been a slave. I have served a really horrible term of bondage to sin. That is why this story about freedom and love touched me so deeply and personally. At some point in the book, someone says that although the union soldiers fought to free the slaves from the bondage of their white masters, Jesus was the One who fought to save us from the bondage of sin. And died. So His was the only sacrifice that can make us completely free. That was the turning point for Delia's heart, I think. And it surely was for mine. 
  And finally, when they have reached home, there is the deliciousness of a proposal.
  What more can one want from a book? I finished this book not a month ago and am already thinking of reading it again.
  This is the story of a journey. A journey away from danger and pain and straight into Jesus' arms.

Rating: 5/5 stars
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