Friday, June 14, 2013

Review: Not by Sight

Not by Sight, book one in Kathy Herman's Ozark Mountain Trilogy, is a perfect blending of setting, characterization, and plot ... and I enjoyed it very much. Based on 2 Corinthians 5:7, "We live by faith, not by sight," this is fast-paced suspense that will appeal to both genders--adults and mature teens.


Sixteen-year-old Abby Cummings has struggled for five years with the mysterious disappearance of her father and two-year old sister, Riley Jo. One day, Abby’s in town shopping and sees a girl about seven, who looks remarkably like she imagines her sister would now. Abby takes a picture with her cell phone and shows it to her mother. Mama, having had her hopes dashed all too often, dismisses it. But Abby can’t. What if her sister and father are still alive? She confides in her best friend, Jay Rogers, but neither teenager has any idea that Jay holds the key to the truth of what happened.

My thoughts

Kathy has given us a very interesting beginning to what promises to be an excellent series. The suspense element was very well done, without being too violent or scary. Characterization was much deeper than what is usually found in suspense fiction. And the plot blended beautifully into the picturesque setting of Beaver Lake, Arkansas.
Beaver Lake
Like C. S. Lewis's book by the same title, we all struggle with "the problem of pain" ... how to survive it, accept it, or how to reconcile it with a loving God. Abby's mother, Kate, probably wishes deep down that she could trust God again, but the loss of her husband and two-year-old daughter have driven her in the opposite direction, away from the comfort and peace that comes from leaning on God. "Where was God during those agonizing years when she cried out to Him for relief from the pain that tormented her? When she struggled to survive with the broken heart that He, in His sovereignty, had allowed to break? He repaid her faithfulness with suffering and left her to endure it alone. He had removed His presence from her when she needed Him most. God couldn't be trusted."
Sixteen-year-old Abby is the heart of this story because she has the beautiful child-like faith and trust that God delights in. Reflecting on what it means to live by faith rather than by sight, Abby responds, "I think that means when we're in the dark, we have to take a step forward and trust that there will be light on the path in front of us."
Faith plays a big part in this story and the characters' spiritual journeys are realistically portrayed. Another beautiful verse kept coming into my mind as I read: "Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning" (Psalm 30:5). I was entertained and emotionally caught up in this story at the same time. I hope we'll see much more of the Cummings family in the other two books in this series.
I like that the publisher, David C. Cook, provides an "after words" section at the end of their novels. Kathy shares some thoughts about her writing and there's also a helpful discussion guide.
There's no answer to "the problem of pain" this side of heaven, and Not by Sight doesn't attempt to give one. But it does do a great job in showing how life lessons can be communicated through the vehicle of Christian fiction. I highly recommend this book to all readers, not just fans of inspirational suspense.
Kathy Herman

From Kathy's website . . .
When I began writing novels, I had several well-meaning individuals tell me they never bother to read Christian fiction because they prefer books with a meaty spiritual message. I was amused, since some of the Christian novels I’ve read have impacted me even more than my Bible study classes. I hear this echoed from my readers.

Perhaps the reason is because stories can present the application of biblical truth through the actions of believable characters facing true-to-life, even gut-wrenching dilemmas, yet provide safe boundaries in which to consider what we would or wouldn’t do given the same situations. In a very real sense, a well-crafted story is a means to gain life experience without suffering loss.
My hope is that each of my novels will not only entertain, but also inspire and challenge. That in the deepest part of our souls, we’ll embrace the depth of what it means to be believers, and then be moved to share its powerful simplicity with those who struggle without hope.
Visit Kathy's website at to learn more.
This book was provided by David C. Cook through and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.


  1. I really like how you put pictures into your reviews, Carole, it helps to imagine the story better. I'm a very visual person - a cover can draw me to or push me away from a book - the pictures in your reviews help me to get a better picture of the story, and I appreciate the effort that you take to give us this experience. I am looking forward to reading this story. I also appreciate Kathy's words at the end.


  2. Thank you, Kim, because I think pictures add a lot too. Whenever a book takes place in a real place, I have fun looking for pictures online and try to work one in if I find a good one. I think you'll really like this book.

  3. Carole, thanks for your thoughts on Not by Sight. My book club will be reading this one later in the year. I always enjoy Kathy Herman and am glad to know that this one is good too.

  4. Beckie, thanks for stopping by. I think this book would be ideal for a book club, as there's a lot to think about and discuss. Hope you enjoy it!