Although River to Redemption features Adria Starr, a child orphaned by the cholera epidemic and Ruth Harmon, widowed by the same epidemic and who raised Adria, the real story revolves around Louis, a slave in their town. Left by his owner to see to things during the epidemic, Louis had ample opportunity to flee and become a free man but felt led by the Lord to take care of the people affected by illness and death at great sacrifice to himself. Adria never forgot what Louis did for her and the town and a number of years later she decided to take action to repay him for his sacrificial and heroic actions.

Set in 1840s Kentucky, prior to the emancipation of slaves, even Christians turned a blind eye to the plight of the slaves. Attitudes in this story may be offensive to many of us today but are perfectly accurate in this historic setting. Adria’s ideals were unusual for the time period and is made obvious by how some citizens responded to her. Romance plays only a minor role in this story with Adria making some difficult decisions about two men who vie for her attention. Ruth, who has avoided male relationships since her husband’s death, has a surprise in store near the end.

River to Redemption may progress a bit slower than many such novels but it has a depth of detail that was enlightening to me. I loved finding out that this engaging book is based on a true story and real people. This book is a must for all lovers of American history. It’s not something you will find in the typical history book.

I voluntarily reviewed a copy of this book provided by Revell Reads, a division of Baker Publishing Group. A favorable review was not required. All views expressed are my own.


One young woman must stand up for freedom–and perhaps find her own in the process.

Orphaned in the cholera epidemic of 1833, Adria Starr was cared for by a slave named Louis, a man who passed up the opportunity to escape his bondage and instead tended to the sick and buried the dead. A man who, twelve years later, is being sold by his owners despite his heroic actions.

Now nineteen, Adria has never forgotten what Louis did for her. She’s determined to find a way to buy Louis’s freedom. But in 1840s Kentucky, she’ll need all of the courage and strength she possesses–and more.


Ann H. Gabhart is the bestselling author of several Shaker novels–The Outsider, The Believer, The Seeker, The Blessed, and The Gifted–as well as Angel Sister, Small Town Girl, Love Comes Home, Words Spoken True, and The Heart of Hollyhill series. She lives with her husband a mile from where she was born in rural Kentucky. Learn more at