Book Review: When Courage Calls by Janette Oke & Laurel Oke Logan

I’ve become quite fond of historical fiction. I do love how they provide us with insight to history and the human experience.


Beth grew-up privileged in Canada with all the modern amenities to life: electricity, indoor plumbing, fine dining, etc. She lived under the scrutiny of her mother who had plans for her. Mostly these plans included her not taxing herself and marrying a man who enjoyed mocking her as a child. She on the other hand, decided to get a teaching certificate and take on the role as a school teacher in very rural Canada. The trip started off with stolen luggage leaving Beth with no clothes or supplies and without her two prized possessions. Her time in Coal Valley challenged her physically and mentally as she took on the role of not only teacher to children who’d lost so much but also as Bible teacher, project manager, and many more roles. This story is one of growth, faith, and humility.

I quite enjoyed this story. I found it uplifting as the authors expertly inserted Bible verses and Christian themes. It never seemed forced or overbearing. The did a great job making things seem natural and the characters seem real. I did enjoy the wide variety of characters and I would imagine anyone could connect with at least one of them. My heart tore frequently in the book in regards to the children and the horrible lot in life. I did like how the author explained that giving a hand out isn’t always the best way to help those in need. Beth’s determination to go forth and conquer the world was quite inspiring!

There were a few things I found a bit irritating. The editing was a bit off-putting. There weren’t a lot of errors but I did find one that pulled me out of the story: Beth’s sister’s name was Julia and then Julie. I suspect the Julia was an editing error but it was a bit confusing at first. I also struggled with how Beth seemed to work until she was sick and then once healed immediately started tackling another major issue in the community. It just seemed that as a newcomer to a village and one she’d only planned on being in for a school year, would have changed things more slowly. For instance, she was doing a tea party with the kids and Bible Club but then added English classes to the miners. Instead she could have arranged the English classes after the tea parties were completed. It all seemed so unreal that one woman would do all of this at once. So, I guess, despite being inspirational of God’s providing strength, it just seemed a bit much.

This book had several wonderful themes weaved throughout. One, prayer- pray for everything. Two, God will provide even when it seems hopeless. Three, raise up a child in a way he should go. Wonderfully done!

Overall, I truly enjoyed reading this novel. I found it very realistic to the stresses of life in a rural Canada. It was a touching tale spun with vivid characters and left you hoping for a sequel.

I give this book a 4.5 out of 5 bookends

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers for an honest review.