"Becoming Lin" by Tricia Dower

Twenty-two-year-old Linda Wise dreams of escaping her small town where almost everyone knows that she was sexually assaulted as a teenager. It’s 1965 and Linda is realizing there is a bigger world out there that can help her break free from her overprotective parents. And it seems that her saviour has come in the form of twenty-six-year-old minister Ronald Brunson.

Ronald’s passion for social justice ignites a determination in Linda. His stories of freedom rides, protests, and imprisonment fuel the fire in Linda. They marry, and he takes her far away from Stony River, New Jersey, to a prairie town in Minnesota.  Over the next seven years, Linda finds herself caught up in the turbulent world of civil rights and war resistance, all while performing her duties as a mother and pastors wife. But Lin soon realizes that if she is truly going to be free and become the woman she needs to be, she needs to confront the trauma of her past and put herself first.

Becoming Lin, by Tricia Dower, is a coming of age story that covers a wide range of topics. Civil rights, Vietnam, war resistance, equal rights, psychology, sexual assault, love, marriage, and motherhood, it is all covered through the life of Linda.

This is a lovely story about identity and one that I think a lot of women will relate to even though the time period is different. There are so many roles that we all have in life and often we can end up playing them all without feeling that we are living as our authentic selves. Sometimes it takes a lot of searching to find that. Lin’s journey from a young girl to a self-assured woman shows others that they are not alone.

In terms of the reading experience, the book started out a bit slow for me as it set the story up. At first I wasn’t sure about how the book went between the past and the present each chapter, but by the end of the book I really appreciated how that method was able to best show Lin’s transformation. The strength of this book for me was through the middle section where it stays in one time period and shows Lin’s experience with the war resistance movement. It is a fascinating time period to read about and put a much more personal experience on something I have really only read about in a text book.


Lin first appears in Dower’s novel Stony River, which tells the story of Linda as a young girl and of the sexual assault that occurred. Some of it is referred to in this book and is covered in a way that gives you enough information that you don’t really need to read that novel first. I haven’t read it but I have read great reviews of it so I think it would be a great idea to read these two together. I will definitely be reading Stony River as I have very much enjoyed Dower’s writing in Becoming Lin.

I received a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher. The opinions expressed above are my own.

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