Book Thoughts: At Every Turn by Anne Mateer

Once again, Anne Mateer has given us a strong (and strong-willed!) female character who you can’t help but love. Alyce Benson, moved by compassion for children in Africa, pledges $3000 dollars to the missionaries working in the Gold Coast. One problem: the money isn’t hers to give, and her father is none too sympathetic to Christian causes. She must find a way to raise the money on her own. She uses the one skill she can: driving. Alyce begins competing in car races in Chicago and Indianapolis.

Intriguing and unusual as it is to have a female driver in Indy in present day, it was even more unusual (and slightly against regulations) to have a female driver in 1916.

More than an interesting story, Mateer delves into hubris, ideas of Christian calling and vocation, and views of Christian women and propriety.

I have two small quibbles with the book related to the love interest. While in her debut novel, Wings of a Dream, Mateer gave us an unpredictable yet inevitable love story, the love story in At Every Turn is more transparent and some of the elements (i.e. suspicions others plant in Alyce about the two love interests) more forced. Also, given the nature and discussion and the place, propriety, and role of Christian women, I would have liked to have seen some time and focus given to the idea of women serving independently of marriage. The story too easily gave into pressures of finding a husband in order to fully serve God. I understand that this was 1916, but many women have historically served in missions and at home as single women.

One final thing: in contrast to Wings, At Every Turn tied things up too neatly in the end. I felt more time was needed on some character changes (specifically with more minor character), or perhaps left more open to those changes.

But overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the book–a character who desperately wants to serve God and searches for how she is uniquely gifted to do so in a world where she fits in more in “the man’s realm” than the flirtatious husband searches of her classmates.

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