I recently finished All Together in One Place by Jane Kirkpatrick. It’s the first book in the Kinship and Courage series. I generally don’t buy much Christian fiction because the stories always seem the same and the characters and plots feel flat and predictable. This book, while predictable in some places, felt very real to me. The characters were realistically flawed and the plot is based on a true story.
We start out following one couple who decided to sell their home in Wisconsin and move West. As they join a wagon train, we meet more characters and are soon swept up in their lives as well. Partway into their journey, a cholera epidemic takes the lives of about half of the travelers, including most of the men. The rest of the men either abandon them or go on ahead to pave the way. The women quickly realize they have to band together in order to continue forward and reach their destination.
I thought this book was a great picture of those who follow Christ. When they first set out on their journey, the women have to leave many of their possessions, packing only what can fit into the wagon. Then, as they reach the first river, they find that in order to move forward they have to leave behind even more. Further still, they realize that in order to leave the flat ground and climb the mountains, they must leave behind even more much-loved items, sometimes resulting in some heartbreaking decisions.
The main character, Mazy, longs for her easy, predictable life in Wisconsin and is heartbroken to move West. It takes her a long time to be happy where she’s at. I think she finds though that only by leaving the comfort and familiarity of home behind is she able to become someone she never dreamed she could be. She really bonds with the other women and builds a kinship that she’s never had before.
I don’t know that I’ll rush right out and buy the other books, but I’ll definitely keep an eye out for the sequels. This book certainly gave me some food for thought.