Kim Vogel Sawyer's Through the Deep Waters is a moving, compassionate novel. At her prostitute mother's death, Dinah leaves the brothel, hoping to make a new life for herself as a Harvey Girl, but her age prohibits her from serving, so she instead becomes a chambermaid in Harvey's Clifton Hotel. Afraid of sharing her past and losing her job, Dinah holds back from making friends with her coworkers, even rebuffing the kind-hearted overtures of her roommate. However, when a handsome but crippled chicken farmer begins showing interest, the desire to be loved begins a war with the shame inside her. Will Amos and Ruthie lead her to the love of Christ? And would they and their God accept someone as tainted as her?
While the characters are generally likeable, they were far from perfect. Often I felt compassion for Dinah, but there were times I was frustrated by her actions, especially that she would resort to being rude in order to keep people at arm's length - no wonder not even Ruthie really liked her, and Ruthie seems the sort to find the good in anyone! Ruthie, though, was easy to understand and connect with - a generally good, young Christian woman who struggles with a judgmental attitude and dissatisfaction with her life (and who hasn't experienced either of those?). Amos, too, has faults that I can see in myself - making requests of God and being disappointed about those that do not materialize and yet blaming Him for those that do.
While the main theme of the book is God's saving grace washing us clean, there are other good messages to speak to those who have already accepted Christ. One that stood out to me was about Ruthie and her tendency to want her plans to be God's plans, but God's plans are often different than what she is envisioning for herself. When Ruthie finally accepts the truth, her preacher father says, "Now that your plans are set aside, your heart is open to explore the plans God has for you" (241). Sometimes we let our own desires blind us to God's plan, when all the time He is anticipating our needs and wants and has something better planned - it just may not be immediately apparent.
Watching Dinah's journey to redemption was a pleasure and encouragement, especially how she changed all from stage to stage: not interested (alone and lonely), seeking (opening up to friendship), and finding (fully blossoming as a child of the King). It is a heartfelt novel, and one can feel the author's compassion for the hurting and lost.
Thank you for a free advance reader copy of the novel for the purpose of review; I was not required to make it positive, and all opinions are my own.