The Sowing Season – Katie Powner

The Sowing Season Katie Powner
The Sowing Season by Katie Powner
Also by this author: The Sowing Season
Published by Bethany House Publishers on October 6, 2020
Genres: Fiction, General
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four-stars

After he's forced to sell the family farm he's labored on his whole life, 63-year-old Gerrit Laninga doesn't know what to do with himself. He sacrificed everything for the land--his time, his health, his family--with nothing to show for it but bitterness, regret, and two grown children who want nothing to do with him.
Fifteen-year-old Rae Walters has growing doubts and fears about The Plan--the detailed blueprint for high school that will help her follow in her lawyer father's footsteps. She's always been committed to The Plan, but now that the pressure to succeed is building, what was supposed to unite her family in purpose, may end up tearing it apart.
When their paths cross just as they each need a friend the most, Gerrit's and Rae's lives begin to change in unexpected ways. Can they discover together what really matters in life and learn it's never too late for a second chance?

The Sowing Season—the story about a gruff old man who befriends a young teenage girl in a Hallmark movie kind of way—isn’t exactly my typical reading fare. But sometimes you just need something different and there was something that called to me about this particular book. And yes, while the book is a Hallmark movie in the making, and I generally find those types of movies and books sappy to no end, I never really felt that way with Katie Powner’s debut offering.

At its heart, The Sowing Season is about finding a new identity. Gerrit’s identity has been the farm. It’s been his life. It was supposed to be his legacy. When he’s forced to give it up, he has exactly zero idea where to go. He doesn’t know how to relate to his wife, who has her own career and is used to being an empty-nester farm-widow. He doesn’t know how to relate to his kids, grown and gone with little love for their absent father. He doesn’t any idea where to go. That’s when he meets Rae.

Rae’s a straight-A whiz-kid with a clear-cut, defined Plan. There’s only one problem: Driver’s Ed. Not only does her Driver’s Ed failure affect her socially, but it also affects The Plan. Because this is a graded class. This goes on a transcript. And Rae’s mind begins to swirl as she runs into (not quite literally) the first major roadblock in her life.

The two strike up an unlikely friendship and Gerrit finds a new part of himself as mentor, grandpa-by-proxy, and friend. The journey isn’t without its bumps and bruises, including a final act drama that didn’t really quite fit into the story’s context and is all-too-easily resolved. (Hallmark, remember?)

The Sowing Season is a feel-good story. It’s a warmhearted take on some pretty complicated issues. Selling the farm is a big deal. (Grandpa had to sell his farm. I’ve been there.) Marriage relationships change with retirement and an empty nest. For those for whom their identity is their job, retirement leaves them wondering not just what to do but who they are. This is contrasted with the other side of the identity question in Rae, who is struggling to discover who she is and dealing with the setbacks that will inevitably come. It packs a lot of deep meaning into an otherwise pretty easy read.

The flaws of the book—well, they may not be flaws if it’s what the author intends—but things resolve themselves a bit too easily. Some of the relationships fall into place (and out of place) with a paint-by-numbers mentality that shows how Powner was relying on a tried and true script for the novel. But it works. Powner pulls it off well. The Sowing Season is a solid debut novel, great for a lazy, easy read. I don’t watch Hallmark movies but, you know what, if The Sowing Season becomes one (and it should!) I’ll watch it.

four-stars