A summer romance in a small Canadian prairie town proves to be the making of a young girl.
Simon Fischer ditches his urban roots and moves to small prairie town Promise, Saskatchewan, the summer after he finishes university. Working as a hired hand, he lives with his aunt Peg and her soon-to-be-husband, Cy, on Cy’s farm. There, Simon meets Hope Winter, the high school girl from the farm next door. Hope is quite mature for her age; having lost her mother, she shoulders the responsibility for raising her 10-year-old sister, Tea, in the absence of their neglectful and alcoholic father. Simon and Hope fall in love over the course of the summer. But when the time comes for Simon to move to Calgary to start a new job, he hurtfully backs out of his relationship with Hope despite his deep love for her. Upon his departure, tragedy repeatedly clobbers Hope, causing her to question herself until she eventually finds strength in her faith and her tight-knit community. But even her fortitude isn’t enough to save her from a wicked turn of events. The book is most effective when it focuses its attention on Hope; her story is profoundly sad, and Murray’s writing capably evokes the emotional realities of sexual assault, pregnancy and loss. The overuse of clichéd phrases is forgivable since the author manages to steer clear of being overly sentimental while depicting the raw and heartbreaking trials many of her characters face. The success of this romance lies in the strength of will and courage exhibited by its title character.
An atypical romance highlighted by a strong female lead who faces heartrending struggles.