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Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite
Triumph: A Novel of the Human Spirit by Jodi Lea Stewart is a historical fiction novel that paints a picture of how small fissures can change generations of lives through the vivid imagery and storytelling of Stewart's characters. The book begins in 1903 with two children ripped from their homes in diverging storylines that create the centerpiece of Stewart's saga. The chapters glide back and forth between the events that occurred and the residual timeline sixty years later, told through the eyes of multiple points of view narrative. As the stories begin to converge, an abduction into a cult and a Texas Ranger weave into an unlikely pair of friends, Annie and Mercy, at the dawn of an American reformation on race, heritage, and the ties that truly bind.
Triumph is a stunning and sweeping piece of literary fiction that ticks all the right boxes for an engrossing read. Jodi Lea Stewart sets the stage with an emotional series of events, one in particular where I practically crumpled to the ground with Flo, a woman forced into the worst type of despair when she comes to understand what has been taken from her. The prose is gorgeous, with almost poetic beauty. “It feels like a knife in his heart watching the death harden the girl even more than she already is in small, unshared ways.” My favorite character was the spirited Mercy who is a delight on every page. Her dialogue practically sings. Stewart doesn't disappoint as the book pulses through to the revelations by Annie and Mercy, leaving readers with the delicious satisfaction of life's sweetness even when built on the salt of tears from years gone by.