The Carpenter’s Daughter by Jennifer Rodewald (review)

thecarpentersdaughter_rodewald_rootedpublishingThe Carpenter’s Daughter is an Inspirational Romance novel that focuses on three individuals: Sarah Sharpe, her father Dale, and Jesse Chapman, the roofer she meets when taking her uncle’s place as a volunteer Master Builder.  Sarah is a skilled framer, and many of her personal issues stem from being raised by her carpenter father in a way that stunted her relationship skills, her self confidence, and denied her identity as a woman.  Dale is still angry and bitter about his ex-wife, and fears losing Sarah as she reaches a crisis and begins to examine her life following exposure to some catty women who called her butch, perhaps unknowingly in her earshot.  That exposure ends with her bumping into Jesse, who finds her piercing blue eyes, construction worker’s outfit, and low maintenance look an irresistible combination.  Still grieving for his parents, Jesse has devoted himself to fulfilling their dream and travels to help the same volunteer program as a roofer.

What kind of girl gave her number out on a piece of vinyl siding?  My life was so not normal. (Sarah, 22%)

I find less this type of review where I had some issues but no particularly strong feelings about difficult to write, and frankly a bit stressful, so bear with me if I don’t express these things with just the right words.

This story is told in first person from three different points of view, which both helped and hindered the story for me.  To juggle the three POVs and give them each the proper weight within the story is quite a feat and well done, though I did not always find the voices to be very distinct.

…I did know purpose, and I had the impression that was what she was looking for.  I knew the God who forged our beginnings and wrote our ends, the God who could breathe purpose into her life. (Jesse, 23%)

Now, the other thing that didn’t quite gel for me – and this might say more about me than the story – is the form Jesse’s evangelism takes.  Particularly his simply saying repeatedly to Sarah, “He loves you.”  Overall, I was just uncomfortable with the sort of “missionary dating” without technically dating that he did with Sarah, and how this contributed to a lonely and vulnerable young woman making self-destructive choices.  While I appreciated the character arcs and the growth that both Sarah and Jesse experience, I could not picture them ever having a truly healthy relationship.  Add to that the explosive anger and complete unreasonableness of Dale’s behavior which seemed to exceed his inner thoughts, and Sarah’s insistence that he would never hurt her, even though he had become emotionally abusive and I just didn’t think it would really take Sarah that long to pursue the answers to her questions about her mother.

Fear had an inaudible voice that made your hair stand on end and your skin feel like you’d hit a hot wire.  I could handle Sarah moving out, standing on her own.  Truly I could.

But becoming her mother?  I couldn’t handle that. (Dale, 74%)

While this story wasn’t completely my cup of tea, I did find the cumulative effect to be touching and I look forward to giving more of this author’s work a try.  Perhaps if I had read this particular book directly after reading the reviews that peaked my interest, or reread those reviews, or if I was personally of a more evangelical bent, I would have experienced this novel with a slightly different perspective.  Food for thought.

The Carpenter’s Daughter by Jennifer Rodewald | Rooted Pages, April 2016 | ebook, 368 pages

This review refers to an ebook purchased on Amazon.  All opinions expressed are my own.

From the Publisher:

One word can change a life.

Sarah Sharpe has grown up as a carpenter’s daughter, knowing only the rough and work-heavy world of her father’s blue-collar profession. Abandoned by her mother as a baby, she’s lived twenty-one years content to drive nails at her dad’s side. Following her father into the world of construction was a natural path, and she took it without a second thought. But a harsh comment about her “butch” appearance sends her on a search for identity.
Enter handsome and easygoing Jesse Chapman, the roofer she meets on her first foray into volunteer work for Homes For Hope. In every way, the quirky man is her opposite—confident, a people kind of guy, and most importantly, happy. His likable qualities continue to draw her in, and for some reason he keeps coming back to her. But they can’t be more than friends—he’s made that crystal clear. Except for a handful of times…and the confusion is driving her crazy.
Sarah’s quest for self-definition becomes more tangled than she ever imagined, and she discovers that the journey will take her deeper than clothes and makeup. Filling the void in her heart becomes an obsession she cannot escape. How far is she willing to go to discover who she really is?