I had trouble enjoying this book.
The writing quality was okay, even rather good, in a lot of places, and the characters were vivid at times, but an overuse of character names and repetitive wording made it hard to enjoy overall.
There were a lot of "transitions", or places where the author would "fast-forward" to a later time (ranging from minutes to weeks later) in the story. Quite a few of these came about right when I felt the story was getting interesting, plopping me down in some (initially) totally foreign context.
I felt that the author overdid it when it came to putting Scripture and Hymn lyrics into the book. Sometimes a whole page would be Scripture or lyrics, totally distracting me from the story. Yes, the characters were reading or quoting or singing, but I think that in this case, less is more when it comes to putting lyrics/Scripture directly into the story.
I also found several parts that sounded cliché to me--"when you want to fight it out man to man, let me know" is one example. These could have been redeemed rather easily if more detail had been added and things were scaled more to the characters' unique selves (I do think the characters were well-crafted).
Another thing that irked me throughout the story was the spelling-out of the dialect that people would be expected to have in that time period and place. It didn't seem consistent to me, and was more distracting than helpful.
This book reminded me of some other Christian stories I've read, in that there are many "spiritual experiences", most of the central characters are strong Christians* (spoiler at bottom of review that relates to this point), and generally nothing very bad happens. Also, much of the story feels surface-level, doesn't go into much detail, and overall feels painted-over, or fake.
BUT this book is still far better than those it reminded me of. There is some very real sin portrayed tactfully in one part of the book, and I applaud the author for "going there". It added more power to the story than anything else, in my opinion, both in the immediacy of it, and in its effect on the story and characters as a whole. Well done.
Even still, much of the book did feel shallow, and lacked nuance in many ways. I could not stay in the story for very long before the writing style, a typo, a cliché, ill-placed transition, or passage of imported text (that is, Scripture or lyrics) would pull me out again. I felt like I was being told a story rather than seeing it for myself. When I read a book I want to SEE the story as I read. I want it to flow naturally and make sense as it comes. I don't want to have my attention constantly redirected to what the author is trying to say or show me as if they're showing me a slideshow of related, but poorly integrated images. I would sooner they weave those pictures into a cohesive film for my mind to digest as my eyes scan the pages.
The bottom line is this: The book made me groan several times, and was hard for me to get through. That shows two things--poor execution (in my perception), and great potential. The groaning was a result of disappointment born of unreached possibility. Faith has a lot going for her becoming an amazing writer (I would say she's already very good--we all need to improve to some extent, and a given project can't condemn a writer to "bad writership" on its own). With some fine-tuning to her craft, I really look forward to seeing what she'll write in the future.
*(or are Christians by the end of the story)