Book Review: When Mountains Move, Julie Cantrell, Thomas Nelson, 2013

When Mountains Move (Cantrell, Thomas Nelson, 2013) was given to me by the publisher in exchange for a fair in impartial review.  It is a story written in the first person featuring a young girl recovering from a violent attack and adjusting to a new marriage.

While I have a little trouble sketching together the timeline of events, Millie joins the rodeo shortly after her parents’ deaths.  She is staying with a well-to-do family when the man of the house attacks her.  Somewhere along the way she’s met Bump who falls madly in love with her and asks her to marry him.  She is of Choctaw descent and eventually meets her grandmother who teaches her much about her Native American heritage.  Unfortunately, Millie chooses to carry alone the secret of her attack and therefore is very slow to recover from it.  She only admits the crime when confronted again by her attacker.  She and Bump work through all of the newlywed adjustments as well as a neighborhood seducer, accused murderer living with them, mountain lions on their Colorado ranch and a new baby within the first year of marriage.

I’m afraid I read the first-person narrative a little too much like the Joe Friday narration of Dragnet.  Therefore, I missed a lot of emotion.  I also failed to get a good image of either Millicent or Bump, which might have been gleaned from a third-person voice.  However, the story drew me in and I truly wanted to see the outcome of it. 

This is a work of Christian fiction, published by a major house in the Christian Book Association.  Millie spends much time in prayer, especially when she’s in trouble.  She has apparently had some biblical teaching from her mother as she recalls in the final pages her “mother’s idea of being ‘born again’”.  Unfortunately, despite meeting the local clergyman in her new town, she never has a rebirth experience at least not one where she hears God’s word and understands it and sees its application in her own life.  Instead, the book ends with her Choctaw grandmother performing a traditional cleansing ritual in their home and where she gives “thanks to the spirits of each direction” in order to “[rid] the home of bad spirits”.   The book closes with, “Somehow, whether through smoke or through song, passages or prayers, I believe our message gets through.  We forgive.  We are forgiven.

Personally, I read fiction as a kind of escape from the troubles and burdens of our world today.  That’s probably why I most enjoy historical fiction.  But my basic belief that we are saved from our sins by grace through faith in Jesus Christ is the strongest factor in choosing titles.  I am not comfortable with religious pluralism and despite a good story, I cannot recommend writing that might lead you toward that belief that all roads lead to God.  Therefore I regrettably give When Mountains Move only two stars.