Twice widowed, Fanny Lapp is busy juggling housework, raising her children and step-children, and assisting the doctor who serves her Amish communityTwice widowed, Fanny Lapp is busy juggling housework, raising her children and step-children, and assisting the doctor who serves her Amish community with each homebirth. Without a husband and with several small children to care for, the responsibilities for repairing and maintaining her home and barn have fallen to the wayside. The bishop has sent Zed Miller, who recently returned to the community after leaving during his rumspringa, to assist the Lapp family and help turn Fanny’s barn into a birthing center for the Amish community.
Meg Harper is hiding out at her sister’s restaurant near Fanny’s community waiting for the state’s licensing board to decide whether or not to revoke her midwifery license following a tragic birth. Shaken by the death of her patient’s infant, Meg is considering swearing off midwifery and resents her sister for offering her services when an Amish man arrives in town frantically looking for the doctor. Yet Meg finds herself drawn to the beauty of birth once again and becomes determined to work with Fanny to help realize her dream for a comfortable, safe place for Amish women to give birth.
This book is the third in a series. I read the first back in 2013 and skipped the second yet I never felt as though missing the second impacted my enjoyment of the third. In fact, I was quite drawn to the story until I reached the halfway point and set it aside for a bit to finish a different novel for my book club. Upon my return, I struggled to remember exactly why I was so enamored with the tale or felt so connected with the characters.
Meg, in particular, seemed to lack the spark (or angst) she possessed at the beginning of the novel, and I found her sections rather tiresome. (To be perfectly honest, I’m rather over the insertion of non-Amish characters into novels focused on the Amish considering how centrist it is to the Amish faith to avoid contact with outsiders.)
My waning attention could also be attributed to how the focus on midwifery was abandoned for a conventional romance novel. Birth seemed to be the item that would tie the two stories together yet it was quickly forgotten after the idea of a birth center was introduced and agreed upon by the Amish community.
Yet out of all the authors who write Amish novels that I have read, Lauer’s writing is among the strongest out there. Her words convey beauty and emotion, and I never felt as though the dialog was clunky or forced. The novel may have become rather predictable but at least it was rather well-written. ...more
Known for their simple clothing, plain lifestyle, and horse and buggy mode of transportation, the Amish are one of the more well-known and idolized reKnown for their simple clothing, plain lifestyle, and horse and buggy mode of transportation, the Amish are one of the more well-known and idolized religious groups in the United States. This book explores the diversity and evolving identities within this distinctive American ethnic community, its transformation over time into separate groups with different levels of adherence to rejecting the modern world, and the group’s geographic expansion.
Amish people do not proselytize and few converts remain with the group for the rest of their lives yet their numbers in North America have grown from a small community of some 6,000 people in the early 1900s to more than 275,000 today. The largest populations are found in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Indiana, with additional communities in twenty-seven other states and Ontario, and mainstream Americans have gone from seeing the Amish as “backward bumpkins” to people with laudable ethically standards.
This is easily the most comprehensive account of the Amish and their history in publication. Enormous amount of attention is paid to the differences between the various Amish groups going beyond the derivations in dress and buggy adornments to discuss how each group makes their own decisions about appropriate levels of interactions with the outside world, including the use of personal vehicles for long distance traveling and electric-powered milk coolers. This level of specification might bore some readers, but I found this discussion and its relationship to how many young adults choose to stay with the Amish to be the most interesting aspect of the book and the greatest contribution to my understanding of this religious group. Contrary to what I presumed, the more restrictive and separate a group is from mainstream America, the more likely their children are to stay with the group.
I also appreciated the straight-forward manner in which Kraybill, Johnson-Weiner, and Nolt tackle the common misconception about Rumspringa as a period where Amish teenagers are allowed to experience the world without consequences. As one Amish woman is quoted in the book, “What group of parents that love their children would say, `Go out and do whatever you want and decide whether you want to be like we raised you'?”. Instead, the authors’ explain how the main focus of Rumspringa is to date and find a husband or wife with whom to have children and raise in the Amish community and the imagination of Rumspringa as period of personal freedom is actually an attachment of American values to the Amish, who value community over the individual.
Very informative and comprehensive read. I know more than a few Amish romance authors who could benefit from reading this book....more
Lindie Wyse is pregnant out of wedlock — a precarious situation to be given that Lindie is Amish — and thinks a marriage arranged by her bother is theLindie Wyse is pregnant out of wedlock — a precarious situation to be given that Lindie is Amish — and thinks a marriage arranged by her bother is the only way to preserve her future. Despite her kneeling confession, her community has scorned her and the man she planned to marry wants nothing to do with her.
Living in a smaller community in Michigan, Josiah Plank is certain he’ll never love again after the death of his beloved wife, Caroline, but he needs someone to care for his deaf, eight-year-old daughter, Hannah. Josiah makes it clear to Lindie that he will not love her and he will not give her children not knowing that she is already pregnant and that her shy and timid nature has more to do with the circumstances surrounding her pregnancy than her personality. After all, Lindie is more than willing to push back when it comes to helping her step-daughter deal with her grief and wayward nature.
The Amish aspects of this novel are more undertones than central to the novel. It very easily could have been placed in the past and written as a mail-order bride novel than an Amish one. And one aspect of the plot is contradictory to everything I’ve learned about Amish culture. Hannah loves coloring like most young girls and Lindie recognizes her talent for drawing advocating that Josiah purchase colored pencils and paintbrushes for the little girl. I could have believed that the Amish community would have allowed Hannah to draw and color given that it is one of her forms of communication, but the addition of an Amish family to one of her drawings goes against the Amish ban on creating graven images. And yet neither Lindie, Josiah, or Hannah’s grandfather, who is a minister in the community, has anything but praise for Hannah’s drawing, which bugged me throughout the novel.
Even so, I enjoyed all the main characters in this book because they are so well-written and each one has a back story to be explored in the novel. Although I figured out Lindie’s secret within the first few chapters, I still found myself waiting with baited breath for her to tell Josiah. Perhaps the plot becomes too emotional; I could have lived without the second medical crisis. Despite this and the apparent lack of knowledge about the Amish, it was an enjoyable read and I will probably read more of Reid’s books should they become available at the library....more
I started this book before bed expecting to read a few pages before following asleep. Instead, I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning turningI started this book before bed expecting to read a few pages before following asleep. Instead, I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning turning page after page in order to find some semblance of happy and happiness in this tragic tale. I certainly plan to read more of Lauer’s books as this was exactly what I needed following my long excursion into Westeros and the land beyond the Wall.
The book is rather evenly split between the story of Haley and Elsie, and while Haley grabbed my attention at the beginning of the tale, I ultimately wished the Englishers had taken more of a backseat to the Amish in this story. The complicated, emotional stories of Elsie and Ruben deserved way more attention than the portions dedicated to them at the end of this novel, particularly the story surrounding Ruben’s disfigurement....more
**spoiler alert** Like many of us who enjoy reading about the Amish, Jenny Burns has contemplated what it would be like to live amongst the Old Order**spoiler alert** Like many of us who enjoy reading about the Amish, Jenny Burns has contemplated what it would be like to live amongst the Old Order Amish. Jenny, however, has taken steps to make this dream a reality — trading letters with a member of the Hickory Hollow Amish community to establish a connection, selling all her worldly possessions and leaving her job before moving to Hickory Hollow to join the community as prospective convert.
Given the premise, I expected to enjoy this story, but I found myself rather underwhelmed by Jenny and her transition into the Amish community. Maybe because Jenny, despite her affection for old-fashioned items and lifestyles, seemed unsuited to life as a Amish person? Her refusal to tell her parents or siblings about her decision speaks to how much she longs to escape, and the emphasis on how being a convert makes her unsuited towards marriage as she interacts with Andrew sets this as her main goal rather than becoming closer to god, which is the true basis of an Amish person’s life. In all, it sets this book up to be more of a romance novel than the self-realization I expected to find within its pages.
Furthermore, the conclusion of the novel is rather rushed with Jenny fleeing the community with the realization the Amish are not perfect and returning when she realizes that no one is perfect. I wanted to shake her and tell her, well, duh. The lack of depth on the part of all the characters outside of Rebecca Lapp, who Jenny stays with, does nothing to expand upon Jenny’s journey.
Those familiar with Lewis’ work will know that this book is set in the same location at The Shunning, a series of books that started my interest in Lewis’s novels but that I ultimately found unsatisfying. This book, thankfully, provides some closure on the story first introduced in The Shunning as Jenny lives in Katie Lapp’s adoptive, Amish parents during her time trying to become a convert....more
Yesterday, I was in desperate need of something to help me relax and plucked this short novel out of my stack of library books to do just that. WoodsmYesterday, I was in desperate need of something to help me relax and plucked this short novel out of my stack of library books to do just that. Woodsmall has a way of sweeping me into her stories so much so that I cannot stop before I devour every last word. This was exactly the uplifting story I needed to help calm me.
The subplot of Roman’s struggle with his paralysis also caught my attention. It is hard enough in the Englisher world to need accommodations for your disability, but Roman’s needs are particularly challenge and he tended to distract me from Annie and Aden because I wanted to get to know him better.
Perhaps the most interesting part of this novel was the friction between the Old Order Mennonite and the Old Order Amish. My favorite series by Woodsmall has an Amish woman carrying out a clandestine relationship with a Mennonite man, but it never appeared quite as contentious as the one between Annie and Aden in this book. It’s a big departure from what she previously presented and what I figured occurred between the two religious sects....more
A common theme throughout Amish fiction is the relationship between an Amish man and a non-Amish women, known as an Englisher. It’s a theme that has aA common theme throughout Amish fiction is the relationship between an Amish man and a non-Amish women, known as an Englisher. It’s a theme that has a tendency to become one giant cliche, but with this book Lewis proves why she consistently tops the list of Amish novels.
The last few books I’ve read authored by Lewis haven’t been my favorite but I really enjoyed this one. I was completely drawn into this tale, and I was thrilled by how little it devolved into one giant cliche. Michael and Amelia are both given the opportunity to develop as people, a reality that is rarely explored in Amish fiction. The characters are allowed to be flawed, allowed to stumble....more
**spoiler alert** I normally try not to spoil books in my reviews, but I simply cannot avoid doing so in sharing my thoughts about this particular nov**spoiler alert** I normally try not to spoil books in my reviews, but I simply cannot avoid doing so in sharing my thoughts about this particular novel. Go no further if you do not want the ending to being given away.
My first thought upon finishing this book was that Lexie's biological family's reasons for giving her away were such bullshit! Her biological mother, Giselle, was unable to care for her and her younger sister, Ada. Her mother's sister, Klara, was willing to take Ada but not Lexie because she feared her husband, Alexander, had fathered the little girl. Never mind the fact that Giselle, Klara's mother, and Alexander all assured Klara that he was not the father, that Giselle had been carrying on an affair with a married man.
And rather that standing up to Klara (or, God forbid, giving the girl to their vast network of family members to raise), this Amish family separated her from her sister and the rest of her family at the age of two-and-a-half and put her on a plane to Oregon. Yet the whole family welcomes Marta's husband's love child with open arms? Really?
I tried my hardest not to be too judgmental of this family's reasons, but my enjoyment of the book was forever changed when Klara and the gang cleared up the mystery of Lexie's adoption. Unfortunate because the novel was set up quite well until this point. I sympathized with Lexie's frustration, and I wish the ending had turned out better for all involved....more
The second book in Woodsmall's Ada's House series follows Lena Kauffman, a twenty-something Old Order Amish schoolteacher with a noticeable birthmarkThe second book in Woodsmall's Ada's House series follows Lena Kauffman, a twenty-something Old Order Amish schoolteacher with a noticeable birthmark on her cheek. Lena struggles to move past the stares and whispers and instead focuses on being the best teacher she possibly can be. However, her lack of submission and use of ideas that do not line up with the Old Order Ways causes the school board to doubt the abilities of their newest teacher.
Shut out of his wife's life and home, Grey Graber wants desperately to make things with Elise, but his friendship with Lena threatens both of their standings in the community.
It's been almost a year since I read this first book in the series and I had to read my review in order to remember exactly what happened. The books do not flow seamlessly as her other series did. The returning characters of Ada, Cara, Ephraim, and Lori were almost unfamiliar to me.
The relationship between Ephraim and Cara takes a backseat to the story of Lena and Grey but Woodsmall continues to remind the reader of their existence. The novel could have been much better had the book focused solely on Lena and Grey or continued what she started in her first book and focus on Cara and Ephraim.
I was really excited about reading this novel but have to admit to being more than a little disappointed. My confusion probably could have been cleared up if I had reread the first book again. However, when reading the second book in a series, I do believe they should flow together much nicer than this particular book....more