post written by Emma Filbrun
Title: Past Forward, Volumes 1–6
Author: Chautona Havig
Series: Past Forward
Major Themes: Farming, Romance
Synopsis: When Willow wakes up one morning and finds her mother dead in bed, her idyllic, self-sufficient life alone with her mother has just come to an end—but a new life begins.
I have fallen in love with Chautona Havig’s books! I just spent the last seven days reading Past Forward—the entire series. One of my favorite things in the world is a well-written, long book. Past Forward certainly qualifies! It is a very different story to most. It was written as a serial novel, with an episode of about six chapters being released every week for a long time. I didn’t read it when it was first written, but when it each episode was made free for a couple of days again the last few months I did get it. Then, I saved them all up until I had them all and read the entire series at once. It’s satisfying to be able to follow a character for so long, especially one who is as real as Willow becomes. I don’t know how Chautona is able to make her characters so real, but she certainly has a gift for that!
It’s hard to know what to tell, in a review of the series, and what should not be mentioned for fear that it will be a spoiler. The story opens in a police station; a young woman has just walked in and told the young man on duty that her mother is dead. Chad has no idea what to do in a situation like this; he ends up taking Willow home and helps her make arrangements for a funeral. Because she is now utterly alone, he goes back to make sure she is all right, and cannot believe the kind of life she lives. Willow and her mother made everything for themselves—food, clothing, candles…. They even painted their walls to look like wallpaper, and didn’t use electricity in the house. Willow had never used a phone, or ridden in a vehicle until the day her mother died. Would she be able to make the transition from an isolated, idyllic life with only her mother, to a life of interaction with many people and the modern world?
Past Forward has many levels. There is the obvious theme, of the conflict between a basic life on the land and life in modern cities. There is the theme of love and romance, and learning to trust men when your mother conditioned you, because of the experiences that had scarred her, to not trust anyone. There is humor. There is joy. There is mystery and tragedy, with accompanying suspense. Every so often, when you least expect it, Willow is threatened by someone coming out of the past and threatening her peace and sometimes her life or the life of someone she loves. Through all these experiences, she learns to depend more on God and the people God has put in her life, and to learn from her new friends as they learn from her.
As with the other books by Havig that I have read, I appreciated that she does not describe kisses in detail. The main characters occasionally kiss, but that is what we know—they kiss. We know there are intimate moments in their marriage, but that is all we know; we are never invited inside the bedroom. I appreciate this standard.
Another thing I noticed was the accuracy of Willow’s story. Or maybe I mean authenticity. Past Forward is set on a farm, and if there is any way of life I know, it’s farming, having lived on farms all my life. I did not find anything wrong in the way things were done on the farm. There was one chapter where I said, “Wait a minute! A farmer would not do that in that way! That is just wrong!” I was ready to email Chautona and tell her—until I read the next chapter, in which the character who had made the mistake realized it and corrected it. Whew!
As everyone said when they met Willow for the first time, Wow! This is an amazing story. You won’t be sorry you read it!
Reading Independently—Ages 15 and Above, Adults
Links to buy Past Forward:
Kindle (complete collection; available for a limited time)
This review was written for the entire set of books. You can buy the individual books here:
Past Forward, Volume 1—
Past Forward, Volume 2—
Past Forward, Volume 3—
Past Forward, Volume 4—
Past Forward, Volume 5—
Past Forward, Volume 6—
Keywords: Farming, Romance