Katie’s Dream is the third installment in Leisha Kelly’s book about the Wortham family. In the first book, Julia’s Hope, Sam and Julia Wortham had come to the end of their resources when they discovered an empty house needing work and asked if they could live in it and let repairing it be their rent. The owner, Emma, agreed, and the Worthams even made it possible for Emma to move back home. They forged a new kind of family and learned from and helped each other. In the next book, Emma’s Gift, both Emma and a neighbor passed away. The neighbor was the mother of ten children. The Worthams had to help the neighbor’s grieving husband plus deal with their own grief and the consequences of Emma’s passing.
In Katie’s Dream, the Worthams and their neighbors, the Hammonds, have settled into a routine. Half the Hammond children are at the Wortham’s house at any given time. Sam Wortham and George Hammond help each other with the farming. Life is still hard and resources are few, yet everyone is doing well.
But suddenly life is turned upside-down when Sam’s brother, Edward, shows up on their doorstep after being released from prison. He claims that Katie, the little girl he has with him, is Sam’s daughter.
Sam is dumbfounded. He has never been unfaithful, has never even met the girl’s mother. Why would Edward do such a thing? What will the townspeople think? What will Julia think? And what should be done with poor Katie, who just wants a home?
Samuel has never talked about his family much in the years Julia has known him, but now she learns about his mother’s alcoholism, his father’s violence, and his brother’s antics. It wasn’t that Samuel was ashamed of them, but he just wanted to forget the life he came from and start a new one. But now the old one won’t leave him alone. But perhaps he and Julia can find the grace to listen, to forgive, and to share God’s love with those who seem to have no interest in it.
The plot is a somewhat unusual premise: I don’t think I have ever read a story quite like this. But I liked the truths that were subtly conveyed. For one, you don’t have to come from a pristine family to go on and serve the Lord and change the course of your own life. Too, troublesome people (even family members) are not just a plague to be avoided: it’s a challenge to show them love and grace, but sometimes that’s exactly why God brings them to us. As Julia says, “Thank God for the opportunity to know Hazel and George and Edward and all the other difficult people we’d ever had to love. God knows what he’s doing wrapping up the crazy mix he put on this earth.”
There’s also a subplot with the Hammond family. One son, Frankie, is smart but can’t learn to read. He’s somewhat dreamy, but can say the most insightful things at times. His father, George, just doesn’t understand him and sometimes unwittingly hurts him by his reactions. This comes to a head when Frankie is injured.
I think each of these books could be read as a stand-alone novel, but the story is enhanced greatly by reading them all.
I loved visiting with the Worthams once again and am looking forward to the next book.