HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Voice in the Storm: A Novel in Parts
Author: Eric Thomas Ruthford
Publisher: Independently published, 2022
Language level: 3
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 13 – 17
Rating: **** 4 stars
(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)
Category: General Youth Fiction
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Ruthford, Eric Thomas. Voice in the Storm: A Novel in Parts (Published in 2022 by Eric Thomas Ruthford). Middle schooler Helene is ready for a perfect summer with her friends Laura and Kim at Camp St. Innocent directed by Father Nektarii at Lake Antoine near Mt. Sawtooth for Eastern Orthodox kids. Church camp is her only time to see her friends from before her family’s move in the middle of seventh grade from Martin Lake a thousand miles away to Whitesburg, where the bullies and the cliques of her new school make her go from shy to terrified. During the camp, a nearby forest fire threatens to force an evacuation. Helene puts her science skills to work to think of a way to escape the smoke. With the help of a meteorologist who has come to study the fire, she creates a plan. Will camp be cancelled? Is Helene’s plan a possible solution? Can she even find her voice to convince the camp director that it could work?
Actually, this book covers about three years and is divided into five sections. Helene narrates the first section about the fire near the camp. Laura narrates the second, a boy named Silouan the third, Kim the fourth, and Helene the fifth, all about various situations at camp and in their homes. Along the way, the “d” and “h” words are used, the term “my God” is found as an exclamation, Helene calls Father Nektarii a bastard, and there are some near vulgarisms such as “smart assed” and “kick butt.” Instances are found of flipping Silouan “the bird,” kissing, making out, and “chest-talking” including many mentions of “boobs.” And a big knock-down, drag-out fight over a boy (Silouan) occurs. To be realistic, these kinds of things do commonly happen, and many folks likely have no problem with them, but some parents might feel that some of them could be inappropriate for children on the lower end of the recommended reading level.
Aside from this, the story-line is interesting and easy to follow, with a great deal of suspense in the last section. Some of the kids are homeschooled. The campers help their friends, grow in faith, make ketchup bottles explode, and try to avoid the director’s quirky punishments for breaking the camp’s no-kissing rule. Author Eric Thomas Ruthford well exemplifies the old writers’ adage to write about things you know. He was baptized an Orthodox Christian in 2001 and attended church summer camp. Perhaps, Voice in the Storm will best appeal to Orthodox teens, but the observant non-Orthodox reader will learn a lot about Orthodox traditions, especially their music. This is Book 1 of the “Camp St. Innocent” series. Helene’s adventures will continue in A Voice Is Born.