Tyndale House Publishers (2017)
Reviewed by Megan Weiss for Reader Views (10/17)
Melanie Dobson’s enchanting novel, “Catching the Wind,” captures the journey of young journalist Quenby Vaughn. Together with a new lawyer friend named Lucas, she helps track down the whereabouts of a girl gone missing. The catch? She’s been missing for 75 years.
“Catching the Wind” is written for a general audience, and anyone in their teens or older will enjoy and understand the novel thoroughly. I found the book starts out rather slow, but builds over the course of the novel as the search for Brigitte gets more intriguing (and also more dangerous). Quenby is quite a guarded, self-conscious young woman at first. She finds the most value in life by telling other peoples’ stories, particularly those who have suffered or are suffering currently. At first it was hard to tell what her age was supposed to be, as her thoughts came off as both adult and still somewhat juvenile at the same time. As we learn more about her though, I believe that this is due to her experiences of being abandoned by her mother as a child and having to live her life without knowing what happened to her or feeling like she belonged to, or was important to anyone.
Dobson’s prose is filled with exquisite details and beautiful imagery that really brings the plights of Quenby, Lucas, Dietmar, and Brigitte to life on the pages. The best portions of the book are those written as flashbacks during the war. Most are written during the years of 1940 to 1943, first in the point of view of Dietmar and then in Brigitte’s. By talking through the eyes and minds of children, Dobson captured an innocence that helped her words become more vivid. Children experience life in a way that is much simpler than adults do, but at the same time, everything they hear, feel, and see seems much more poignant and sharp. It was these components that really helped set the pace of the novel. Once I got to the part where Dietmar left Brigitte, I had more and more trouble putting the book down. I read the last 200 pages in one sitting.
One thing to note that would make the reading more seamless would be to format the text messaging conversations so that they stand out better from normal exposition. At first it was hard to distinguish, and readers may get confused.
The overall theme of the novel revolves around forgiveness: forgiveness for loved ones who have wronged you; forgiveness for ancestors who acted on the wrong side of history; and, most importantly, forgiveness of oneself. In “Catching the Wind,” Melanie Dobson has written a wonderfully heartfelt novel, filled with emotion and the sense that anyone is capable of changing their own story, if they have enough courage to do so.