Lynn Austin once again captured the intracacies of compelling relationships in this historical fiction set in World War I. In THOUGH WATERS ROAR, Grandma Bebe, otherwise known as, Beatrice Aurelia Monroe, sets out to empower women in the world and ends up in jail for her support of Prohibition. After attempting to shut down a Saloon following the departure of her co-conspirators of the Women's Christian Temperance Union, Grandma Bebe sets about smashing whiskey barrels with an axe in order to set "men free from the slavery to alcohol." Although Grandma Bebe is a devout and faithful Christian, Lynn Austin shows us that even as faithful followers of God and His word, we are not perfect people and isn't hesitant to present us as we truly are regardless of societal thought that if you're a Christian, you're perfect. We are not flawless!
Grandma Bebe's grand-daughters, Alice (Allie), and Harriet each hold their own opinion of their Grandma's work. Allie, seen as a beautiful and soft-hearted charmer who believes women are the weaker sex, is too difficult a challenge for Grandma Bebe to change. Harriet however, with her "unruly brown hair", seen as a "plain child", is told by Grandma that she will have to rely on her "wits" to get her through her life because she has "no beauty", and challenges herself to spending her time "shaping" Harriet after witnessing her kick a boy. Harriet herself, doesn't want to be seen as a "...beautiful siren" like her sister Allie, end up in jail like her Grandma, or become a "dutiful wife" like her own mother, and ponders how she is to live her own life as a "modern woman." This becomes the very question that Harriet considers a few short years later when SHE lands in jail!!
Grandma Bebe's own mother, Hannah, has shared many of her Christian beliefs with Bebe over the years, one of which was the "...secret of contentment...to live each day as if it was a gift. God gives us that gift every morning when the sun rises...each new day God gives us that gift and we must ask God what He wants us to do for Him that day and by doing so we find contentment."
When Harriet was 11-years-old, Grandma Bebe had taught her how to change a blown tire after they were trapped on a dark road, alone at night. Harriet was shocked that her Grandma even knew how to do this and asked why she didn't just flag someone down to help them? It was those words on that day that Harriet would remember when she refused to call someone to bail her out of jail a few years later. Grandma Bebe had told her: "Only women in fairy tales want to be rescued."
Throughout the story as Grandma Bebe teaches and shapes Harriet, many lessons emerge that set the tone and prepare Harriet to carry forward in her own life. Harriet learns that it doesn't matter what we do or what we accomplish while we're here on earth, but we "become". Not to become bitter people when things don't go the way we intend them too because "bitterness is like a weed...you have to dig down deep inside to destroy the roots...let God search your heart and allow Him to show you what is there and help you root out the bitterness."
May 14, 2011