Sunday, May 25, 2014

Review: What Once Was Lost

What Once Was Lost
By Kim Vogel Sawyer
WaterBrook Press, 2013


A woman meant to serve, a child in the dark, a man standing apart—can these three souls embrace a God with new plans for them?

On a small Kansas farm, Christina Willems lovingly shepherds a group of poor and displaced individuals who count on her leadership and have come to see the Brambleville Asylum for the Poor as their home. But when a fire breaks out in the kitchen leaving the house uninhabitable, she must scramble to find shelter for all in her care, scattering her dear “family.”

With no other options, Christina is forced to approach Levi Jonnson, a reclusive mill owner, to take in a young blind boy named Tommy Kilgore. Levi agrees with reluctance but finds himself surprised by the bond that quickly grows between him and Tommy.

As obstacles to repairing the farm pile up against Christina, she begins to question her leadership ability and wonders if she can fulfill the mission to which she's dedicated her life. And when an old adversary challenges Christina, will she find an unlikely ally—or more—in the aloof Levi? Can Levi reconcile with the rejection that led to his hermit-like existence and open his heart and life to something more, especially a relationship with a loving God?

My thoughts

"A woman meant to serve, a child in the dark, a man standing apart" - these words from the book's description capture the essence of What Once Was Lost.

From a standpoint of plot, characterization and spiritual themes, What Once Was Lost is an excellent story and I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it. Several contrasting elements come into play - heartbreak and joy, loss and provision, separation and community, hypocrisy and love, guilt and forgiveness. This is an entertaining and touching story that pulls at the heartstrings.

The story opens at the Brambleville Asylum for the Poor located on a Kansas farm in 1890, and the residents of all ages make up a strong supporting cast that I cared about immediately. Christina selflessly carried on this ministry started by her father and loved the "feeling of family represented by this ragtag assortment of discarded humanity." My heart went out to Christina and the sense of loss she feels as many members of her "family" find stable home situations. Christina found her sense of worth and purpose in caring for "the least of these," but comes to realize she had been serving herself rather than glorifying God - and that's something I have discovered about myself from time to time.

I was drawn to Levi, the mill owner - a man who had separated himself from others rather than risk being hurt again. Hypocrisy on the part of the Christian community is central in this story - people who looked down on the handicapped and turned their backs on a family in need. But at the heart of this story is eleven-year-old Tommy, blinded by a boiler accident earlier in his life, but who "possessed an odd way of seeing with his heart since his eyes didn't work anymore." Levi didn't treat Tommy like an invalid, and the relationship between these two will move any reader.

"Worry is telling God you don't trust Him."
- Christina's dad

Spiritual transformation is seen in Levi and Christina, as well as other characters, and I especially loved seeing the message of repentance and forgiveness shared. What Once Was Lost is a story that I recommend to those who enjoy inspirational historical romance, and I look forward to reading more books by Kim Vogel Sawyer.

What Once Was Lost can be purchased online at Amazon, CBD, DeeperShopping, and B&N.

Kim Vogel Sawyer

Kim Vogel Sawyer is a best-selling, award-winning author with more than one million copies of her books currently in print. Awards include the ACFW Carol Award, the Inspirational Readers Choice Award, and the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence. Sawyer lives in central Kansas, where she and her retired military husband, Don, run a bed-and-breakfast inn with the help of their feline companions. She savors time with her daughters and grandchildren.

Meet Kim online at, Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you to Blogging for Books for providing an electronic copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


  1. Carole, this sounds like a book I would really enjoy reading. The only other book I have read by Kim Vogel Sawyer is Echoes of Mercy. I really enjoyed it. I liked how you used contrasting elements in your review. And can't we all relate to losing our first Love of Jesus, even while serving Him, and how sometimes our ministry ends up fulfilling ourselves verses glorifying our Savior, and the change comes so subtly! I am so thankful for a God who forgives and takes us back time and time again, no matter what our mistakes may be.
    Your blog is a blessing!!

  2. I have been looking forward to reading books by this author, and this one sounds very interesting! =)