Historical Fiction Book Review: My Heart Belongs in Castle Gate, Utah: Leanna's Choice

Publisher's Description

"Journey now to Castle Gate, Utah of 1910 where...
Forbidden Love Tries to Survive Old World Expectations

Schoolteacher Leanna McKee plans on leaving the coal mining town of Castle Gate, Utah, and never looking back. Good riddance to coal dust, rugged men, and the fatal mine that took her husband’s life.

Until the widow meets a widower who awakens her heart...and she finds herself inexplicably falling for miner Alex Pappas which stirs up a whole heap of trouble.

Alex’s Greek parents have arranged a more traditional match for him.  When the schoolteacher’s association with the Greek family begins to anger the American miners, they threaten Alex and his family. Leanna has received an offer to teach elsewhere and feels she has no choice but to leave Castle Gate. . .though she will be leaving her heart behind."

My Review

My Heart Belongs in Castle Gate, Utah: Leanna’s Choice, by Angie Dicken, is truly an inspiring piece of historical fiction with a setting, characters, and themes that resonate with purpose and meaning. The detailed descriptions of the novel’s integral setting draw attention to the wondrous, natural beauty that is frequently found in Utah, a beauty that often stands in harsh contrast with the difficult realities faced by the settlers and immigrants who made the area their home more than a century ago. It is these settlers and immigrants who powerfully shine as the characters in this novel. They possess the strength and determination to survive and thrive despite the many physical, emotional, and spiritual challenges they face. Against a backdrop of unmet expectations and broken dreams, the characters persevere to attain forgiveness, acceptance, hope, and love. Though they are hated for their ethnicity and rejected for their unpopular choices, the characters still endeavor to reflect the reconciliatory light of Jesus on the injustices that flow disturbingly from ignorance, prejudice, arrogance, and pride. 

More than a simple historical narrative, this novel is rich with relevant themes and thought-provoking ideas. It is tender, emotionally stirring, and ultimately uplifting. It is a novel that I will long remember for the lasting impact that it has had on my thoughts and upon my heart. This novel was engaging, meaningful, and moving, and I recommend it wholeheartedly. 

My Reflection

It is refreshingly poignant when a work of fiction draws attention to Biblical truth. Throughout this novel, the harm and destruction that is wrought as a result of ignorance and prejudice touches on the ongoing battle with hate that still rages throughout our world today. As demonstrated in this novel it is a message worthy of repeatedly sharing that only through faith in the extraordinary grace of the Gospel can we truly be one in Christ Jesus. Just like the characters in this novel, we must all find the courage through our faith in Jesus Christ to stand against ignorance and prejudice so that our choices, our decisions, and our actions overflow with the grace, the mercy, and the unconditional love that Jesus commands us to share with all people. 

Click here to purchase a copy of this novel for yourself. 

*I was given an early copy of this novel by the author. The honest review I have written, whether positive or negative, contains opinions that are entirely my own.


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