Saturday, January 13, 2018

"The Sound of Rain" by Sarah Loudin Thomas

In The Sound of Rain, Sarah Loudin Thomas takes readers to the poverty of Appalachia and the wealth of Myrtle Beach in the 1950s.

Judd Markley is a hardworking coal miner who rarely thinks much past tomorrow until he loses his brother--and nearly his own life--in a mine cave-in. Vowing never to enter the darkness of a mine again, he leaves all he knows in West Virginia to escape to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It's 1954, the seaside community is thriving, and Judd soon hires on with a timber company.

Larkin Heyward's life in Myrtle Beach is uncomplicated, mostly doing volunteer work and dancing at the Pavilion. But she dreams of one day doing more--maybe moving to the hollers of Kentucky to help the poor children of Appalachia. But she's never even met someone who's lived there--until she encounters Judd, the newest employee at her father's timber company.

Drawn together in the wake of a devastating hurricane, Judd and Larkin each seek answers to what tomorrow will bring. As opposition rises against following their divergent dreams, they realize that it may take a miracle for them to be together.

Following his younger brother's death in a mine cave-in, a death he feels should have been his own, Judd struggles to live life. He ends up moving from West Virginia to Myrtle Beach, a place his brother always dreamed of going, and there he encounters the Heyward family.

George Heyward, owner of the Waccamaw Timber Company, hires and then quickly promotes Judd. But it's Larkin Heyward, George's daughter, who completely captivates Judd, and she seems to care for him, as well. George even seems amenable to a union between Judd and Larkin. The only problem? Larkin longs to leave the comfort of her South Carolina home and join her brother in his mission work in Appalachia, while Judd can envision a life at the timber company.

I find I have mixed feelings about The Sound of Rain. While I enjoyed the story, I never felt fully invested. Perhaps this is because the story bounces from West Virginia to Myrtle Beach to Tennessee and back again many times, and I never felt like we went deep enough in each place. (I'll freely admit that some of my problem with this could be that I just read Catherine Marshall's Christy at the end of last year, and that book goes so deep into the setting and characters in Appalachia that this novel felt like it was just scratching the surface in comparison.) It also moved a bit slow for my taste, and I really had to force my way through the first 150 pages or so.

I also didn't really "feel" the romance between Judd and Larkin and was more interested in them separately than together.That said, I did appreciate the confusion Larkin felt toward Judd as she tried to determine whether she was simply feeling attraction or God was steering her toward Judd for a purpose.

My absolute favorite part of the book revolved around Judd's friendship with Pete, a man who worked for the timber company but had a bone to pick with Heyward. Pete's story was fascinating, and I was much more interested in seeing how his story would turn out than I was in anything else.

Overall, I guess I would say that The Sound of Rain wasn't necessarily the book for me, but I do suspect that other readers of historical fiction will like it very much. 3 stars.

Buy the book.
Read my reviews of Sarah Loudin Thomas's Miracle in a Dry Season (5 stars), Until the Harvest (5 stars), and A Tapestry of Secrets (3 stars).

Sarah Loudin Thomas is a fundraiser for a children's ministry and has written for Mountain Homes Southern Style and Now & Then magazines, as well as The Asheville Citizen-Times. She is the author of Miracle in a Dry Season and Until the Harvest. She holds a BA in English from Coastal Carolina University. She and her husband reside in North Carolina. She can be found online at

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free for review from Bethany House Publishers through its book reviewer program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Also, some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase an item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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