Freedom’s Ring

Freedom’s RingFreedom's Ring by Heidi Chiavaroli
Genres: Contemporary, Historical
Published by Tyndale on August 8, 2017
Pages: 400

 

Publisher’s Summary:

Boston, 2015
Two years after nearly losing her life in the Boston Marathon bombing, Annie David is still far from “Boston strong.” Instead she remains isolated and defeated―plagued by guilt over her niece, crippled in the blast, and by an antique ring alongside a hazy hero’s face. But when she learns the identity of her rescuer, will he be the hero she’s imagined? And can the long-past history of the woman behind the ring set her free from the guilt and fears of the present?

Boston, 1770
As a woman alone in a rebellious town, Liberty Caldwell finds herself in a dangerous predicament. When a British lieutenant, Alexander Smythe, comes to her rescue and offers her employment, Liberty accepts. As months go by, Alexander not only begins to share his love of poetry with her, but protects Liberty from the advances of a lecherous captain living in the officers’ house where she works.

Mounting tensions explode in the Boston Massacre, and Liberty’s world is shattered as her brother, with whom she has just reunited, is killed in the fray. Desperate and alone, she returns home, only to be assaulted by the captain. Afraid and furious toward redcoats, Liberty leaves the officers’ home, taking with her a ring that belonged to Alexander.

Two women, separated by centuries, must learn to face their fears. And when they feel they must be strong, they learn that sometimes true strength is found in surrender. 

Heidi Chiavaroli’s debut novel intrigued me before I even held it in my hands, for several reasons; it has dual story lines, she writes in first person, and there is just something extra exciting about reading a debut novel. Thankfully, it didn’t take me long to realize that I had every reason to be excited. The voices of both Annie, in the present day, and Liberty, in Colonial America, are infused with truth, setting up for a rich reading experience. When I read a dual-time narrative, I always expect to enjoy one more than the other – usually the historical story line – however, in this case, I found both characters and situations equally compelling. While Annie’s journey is not dangerous physically, it is often emotionally strenuous. Liberty, on the other hand, is often in danger physically and war is a looming specter that haunts her and her friends daily. I enjoyed both stories for different reasons at different parts of each woman’s story, but I always felt fully invested in their well-being. I also loved the Bostonian flavor of the novel. Though it’s on my travel bucket list, I have never been to Boston, and Chiavaroli brings the city to life, both in the present day as well as the past, with mentions of specific locations, names and historical sites. The engaging historical details never attempt to usurp the story itself, and I’m even more eager to visit after reading this story.

When I read a dual-time narrative, I always expect to enjoy one more than the other – usually the historical story line – however, in this case, I found both characters and situations equally compelling.

The novel opens in 2013 with Annie running the Boston Marathon. The bombing that day has a profound impact on Annie as a participant of the race, and even more so on her niece, Grace, who was there watching her race. Awash with remorse and guilt after escaping unscathed, while Grace must contend with permanent damage from the heinous event, Annie withdraws from her family, from running, from anything that reminds her of that terrible day. The only thing that keeps her going is a ring that a man who rescued her from the street that day pressed into her hand before he disappeared. She later meets this mystery rescuer, but instead of returning his family ring, she finds herself caught up in its mystery, caught by how much of a security it has been and drawn by its inscription, “Victory belongs to the strong.”

Though at first the reader may wonder where the connection lay, Chiavaroli weaves both stories together in such a way that feels seamless.

In Colonial Boston, Liberty takes a position in the home of British soldiers, as their housekeeper, in order to escape destitution. Her family is dead, and she hasn’t heard from her brother, James, in so long that she fears that he might be as well. This decision sets into motion events that will affect Liberty for the rest of her life, and as war looms, the consequences may just break her heart and hurt those she loves.

Though at first the reader may wonder where the connection lay, Chiavaroli weaves both stories together in such a way that feels seamless. While there is a bit of a romantic thread in the story of each woman, the story doesn’t focus on that, for which I was glad. The story to focuses almost entirely on their own growth; both make mistakes and both feel their life has dealt them a blow they cannot overcome, but despite that, they can still heal and grow. Liberty’s character goes through significant growth as she decides where to place her loyalty, and Annie walks an emotionally harrowing path of forgiveness, both seeking it from her family and herself. As Annie and Brad search historical records to uncover the ring’s history, her story comes closer and closer to Liberty’s, culminating in a satisfying end. Though everything doesn’t fall into place perfectly, the ending feels realistic and well-deserved. I felt that my heart had been broken and put back together, but the journey is definitely worth it, and I feel hopeful about what comes next for Annie.

I felt that my heart had been broken and put back together, but the journey is definitely worth it, and I feel hopeful about what comes next for Annie.

I’m thrilled that I’ve found a new author to follow in Heidi Chiavaroli and am eagerly anticipating more novels from her. Highly recommended for fans of historical and contemporary fiction with interwoven timelines.

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