By Ellie Estrema
Evie Farrow has experienced enough joys and sorrows for a lifetime. Now, she’s content to simply continue living on Ocracoke Island where her family has lived for generations. Her life is full of the simple tasks of running the family inn, far from the pain and struggle caused by World War II. But when a mysterious man washes up on the beach who claims to work for the British Navy, Evie is forced to consider the possibility that her simple existence may be turned upside down.
Sterling Bertrand didn’t become a special agent for nothing. And his gut is telling him there’s something sinister going on in this island’s beautiful shores while the beautiful innkeeper who “rescued” him is raising all kinds of red flags. Who is this woman and her family anyway?
I wanted to find out as much as he did.
I’ve been reading Roseanna M. White’s books since I went through an intense historical fiction phase during quarantine. I’ve gotten to know White’s style and typical plot structure, and, usually, I love the familiarity of curling up with one of her new books. “Yesterday’s Tides”, however, was different. This book is full of familiar characters, plot twists and deep themes that surprised me in all the best ways.
White does a superb job in this book of tying many of her previous stories together. She references characters from nearly all the books she’s ever written, despite the fact that she’s written books across decades of time and generations of history. And yet, every connection feels genuine and realistic, as if the characters’ lives are interwoven like threads into one tapestry that tells a complete story. This interweaving reminds me of how God weaves lives together, intentionally and graciously, as our little stories come together in the greater story of bringing Him glory, and it’s a reminder I need to hold close long after I set this book down.
Additionally, White takes a different approach to this story than most of her books. She sets it mainly in the Americas during World War II, although one timeline does occur in her usual World War I-era England. White does a great job of contrasting the different fashion trends, perceptions and traditions of the two countries and time periods. I never felt lost, but I truly did feel submerged into two separate worlds. I felt like this book got the best of both with the slow American island setting and the intense chaos of codebreaking Room 40 in England, as time and tradition twisted around with the plot perfectly.
Speaking of plot twists, let it be known that this is the first time that Roseanna M. White wrote a book that I literally could not put down. Usually, her books are slow and sweet, but this plot jumps between timelines and characters in the most confusing and fascinating way. However, I think it is the characters themselves that intrigue me the most.
I’ve always loved stories that rotate around figuring out characters’ true identities. As a person who relates more to characters than plots, I loved getting to puzzle out these characters as Eve’s history slowly begins to unfold revealing something far more beautiful than I had ever imagined.
These characters are some of my favorites in any Roseanna White book. Throughout the story, each character has extremely real doubts and difficult struggles but in the end, the characters choose the hard road of trust in God. Emotions run high but they do their best to do right through it all, holding on to their faith.
This book doesn’t shy away from hard issues. From loss to adultery to racism, this book is full of broken people in broken situations, and yet, the sweet faith that shines through is still brighter. I caught glimpses of the beauty of a God who doesn’t let us down in the darkness, and it always takes my breath away. Especially when it considers certain situations…
(Because spoiler alert: there’s nothing too far gone for Him to redeem. )
I have never read a Roseanna M. White book like this. It has twists and turns that I never saw coming, characters that I couldn’t wait to find out more about and sweet truths about God that had me pondering long after I closed the book. I may be biased, but I think this is her best one yet.
“Yesterday’s Tides” is available wherever you get your books.
Ellie Estrema is a sophomore double majoring in PWID and Spanish. As a TCK, former MK and current PK, she loves learning languages, traveling to see old friends and describing herself with weird acronyms. When she’s not buried in homework, you can usually find her curled up in a hammock: reading stories, writing poetry or laughing with her friends over steaming cups of tea.
Book cover courtesy of Amazon.com
Graphics courtesy of @booksandscribblers