Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss is a classic novel for any woman from her pre-teens through old age. Written in 341 pages of personal journal diary style format, you will feel as if the main character is your best friend before you close the cover on the final chapter. The book journals secrets of Christian womanhood and is a gem in teen girl fiction by Elizabeth Payson Prentiss.
Stepping Heavenward begins with 16-year old Katherine Mortimer writing about her birthday. She writes:
“How dreadfully old I am getting! Sixteen!”
She continues to tell her story from her viewpoint as she grows, both physically and spiritually into maturity. It is the story of a young girl sharing her intimate secrets as she tells the story of her life and her growing up to desire nothing but to seek God’s face.
Though the book is fictitious in nature, it is not intended to be read for entertaining laughs and is, for the most part, serious in nature. It seems to be set in a similar time frame as when the author would have kept her own journal as a teenager. The author may have even penned some of her own teen feelings of real life events, but no one will ever know for sure where fiction and truth cross or if at all in Payson Prentiss’ novel.
Payson Prentiss grew up in the 1800s as the daughter of a revival preacher. She began penning her thoughts when she was a teenager. She not only authored this book, but also wrote the lyrics to the hymn, “More Love to Thee, O Christ.”
What makes the story so believable and engaging is that it is a series of passages into the thoughts of this growing girl who faces mother-daughter tensions and love, friendship, and family conflict that most people will relate to. She doesn’t sugar coat her writings to make herself appear like a saint. Instead, she pours her heart out with every word.
She spills it all, from her successes and joys to her heartaches and failures. You will feel as if Katherine Mortimer and you grew up together as you read about her desires to discover who she is and how she fits into God’s plan for her life.
The book is a young Christian girl’s joys and struggles of daily life growing up, starting from the day of her 16th birthday. It draws the reader in to relating to the emotions of the text to a point where you will forget the characters are not real.
Maybe you’ll relate to her inability to deny that she is already a full 16 years old due to the fact that she saw her birth date written in the family’s Bible in her daddy’s own handwriting. Both mothers and daughters will relate to her suffering the consequences of sickness after refusing to listen to her mother when she begged her daughter to wear shoe covers in the snow, or the friction of trying to convince her mother, and herself, that her fiancé truly does love her.
As young Katherine grows and experiences losses, marriage, hardships, and illnesses, the reader gleans wisdom that jumps off of the pages in her journey into womanhood.
The hardships and joys of her life story draw her to a similar conclusion as the Apostle Paul as he struggles with living or dying.
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But I I live on in the flesh, this will bring fruit from my work; yet I don’t know what I will choose. But I am in a dilemma between the two, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Yet, to remain in the flesh is more needful for your sake. —Philippians 1:21-23
Any pre-teen or early teenaged female will enjoy this book thoroughly as would women of all ages. However, it is also a great book for young men, married men, or fathers to read as well because the pages express insight into how a woman feels.