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Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Fiction Review: Jonas and Olivia

Jonas and Olivia, by Victoria Minks is the second book I’ve read by this author. It’s a look into the past, with language and customs that belong to a bygone era, at the time of the Revolutionary War.

Jonas Carmichael lives alone in aptly named Thornwall Hall, except for his hired boy Ishmael. Jonas has shut out all light from his life. He has no friends, family, and he won’t even open the drapes for fear someone might see him inside his self-imposed prison. Ishmael is a fifteen-year-old young man, who’s mute. This serves Jonas to a T, as no noise disturbs his bitterness and solitude.

Olivia’s father has just passed away, and according to his will, the Bradshaws cart her away to live with Jonas. Jonas is completely taken by surprise and feels invaded by this little girl. He writes letters trying to get rid of her.

But Olivia, with her Pollyanna-like optimism, is already making friends. Ishmael is always by her side, and soon a neighbor girl shows up in their yard. (Of course, Jonas doesn’t know.)

Jonas continues to complain and write letters. He doesn’t appreciate this little ray of sunshine that threatens to invade his darkness . . . until she’s gone.

Her uncle and aunt, Mr. and Mrs. Frasier come to take her back to England with them and make a lady out of her. So, Olivia is gone, and the darkness envelops Jonas’ house once again.

Find out what happens after Olivia leaves. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Miss Minks’ writing is excellent. In the Kindle version, I found a couple of typos, but you’ll be amazed to read a young writer who uses the English language like Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. Also, there are recurring themes in this work: spying, light and darkness, silence and speech, art, education, humanity, and the importance of family and community. It’s very well put together, and I think any reader will be delighted. My only criticism is that the ending is extremely abrupt. (I hope it means the author is working on a sequel!)

This book would be great for children from maybe nine years old on—including adults. It would be great for a family read-aloud. I enjoyed it immensely. Olivia is a Christian who shares her faith with Ishmael and Jonas and even her aunt and uncle. She lets her light shine in many different ways. I think you and yours will enjoy this tale.

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