Friday, August 15, 2003

Highland Grace: A Moving Conclusion to the Blue Ridge Legacy

Gary Parker’s three-book series, Blue Ridge Legacy, concludes with Highland Grace. Continuing the story of 100-year-old Abby Porter, this final part tells of the Porter family during the years 1945 to 1974. Finally we see where Abby’s great-granddaughter, Lisa, fits into the family tree; and Lisa, the one learning the story from Abby, can make the family faith her own as well.

As begun in Highland Mercies, the previous book, the story now focuses on Abby’s children, as the post-World War II generation takes over from the previous one. Abby and Thaddeus are still around, but more in the background, and brother Daniel is soon removed from the scene. Much of this story revolves around Abby’s wayward younger son, Steve Waterbury. Now that Abby and her generation have their faith in God, the next generation must go through its struggles – and will Steve find his way back home?

The story is told in three sections: 1945 to 1946; 1946 to 195x; and from then to 1974 – but as with multi-generation stories, sometimes many years are skimmed over before more action occurs. Along the way the family lives through the turmoil of those years, including the Korean and Vietnam Wars.

The highlander ways have passed, as the first part of Highland Grace makes clear. This first part concludes lingering plot elements from the first two books: the long-standing conflict with the Clack family; and Daniel’s vow to get back his family’s land (now lost over 30 years before). After a few interesting plot twists, those two problems are resolved, and the story can move forward. Much of the next two sections deal with a familiar story theme: sibling rivalry between two brothers, with an inferior-feeling younger brother envious of the older.

Still, it is interesting to follow the lives of these characters, much like a real family with many relationships to each other. Even another Clack character comes around to play the brief role of villain, in Jim Waterbury’s brother-in-law (his wife’s side of the family). It also is neat to see the story come up to the present, to fit the modern-day Lisa into the picture along with her early life in the 1970s.

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