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The Outcast: a modern retelling of The Scarlet Letter

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  1,772 ratings  ·  280 reviews
Raised in an Old Order Mennonite community, Rachel Stoltzfus is a strong-willed single woman, content living apart from mainstream society until whispers stir the moment her belly swells with new life. Refusing to repent and name the partner in her sin, Rachel feels the wrath of the religious sect as she is shunned by those she loves most. She is eventually coerced into le ...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published July 1st 2013 by Tyndale House Publishers (first published January 1st 2013)
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Average rating 3.92  · 
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 ·  1,772 ratings  ·  280 reviews

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Lisa at Farm Fresh Adventures
Let me start by saying...I don't pick Amish fiction to read for pleasure. It's not my style and I usually avoid it. Don't ask me why--I really don't even know. I just don't. LOL! BUT this book called to me. It said "give me a try" and I admit I was curious about the Nathaniel Hawthorne link.

So I gave The Outcast a try...

The Amish/Mennonite community setting for this book works perfectly. Especially since it is set in modern times! It would have been impossible to pull off
Aug 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
I tend not to read Amish fiction. It’s just not my thing. So why did I read Jolina Petersheim’s debut novel? A) It was an INSPY nomination & B) It’s a retelling of The Scarlet Letter, so I was most definitely intrigued.

Man oh man, do I recommend this one! Nominated for the INSPYs, it was one of the many I read and when you’re reading close to 150 books and trying to narrow down five in each category, when one stands out, you know it’s a keeper.

The Old Mennonite cultur
Jolina Petersheim’s debut novel, The Outcast, truly transcends genre, telling a story of betrayal, legalism and jealousy, but, more importantly, of hope, healing and forgiveness. The layered plot & multi-faceted characters combined with a poetic, lyrical writing style give this novel an unexpected edgy and realistic quality that is not often found in novels of this setting.

Set in an Old Order Mennonite community, this story touches on themes of legalistic religion versus tolerant forgivenes
Mar 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Wow! Not since reading Cantrell's "Into the Free," have I been so emotionally moved by a story. There were so many things that this author did well. Her writing style is emotionally evocative, and her words are expressed with such beauty that I became fully immersed in the book. Her use of characters to bring out different truths was sheer perfection. I especially loved how she used Amos's point of view from the "great cloud of witnesses" as a way of showing omniscience, but in a much more compe ...more
J.M. Maison
Jan 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
THE OUTCAST is one of those rare novels that shines in every way. I was immediately drawn in because “The Scarlet Letter” is such a favorite, and I was not disappointed. Every character, every sub-story, every generation, every relationship in the book, is layered and intricate and nuanced. I could not stop reading—everything about the book took hold and wouldn’t let go—until I finished. It is both intriguing and engrossing. The Mennonite community is completely foreign to me, but Petersheim mad ...more
Oct 30, 2014 rated it it was ok
I think I ate most of the left over Halloween candy while reading this. I am so glad its over. (I meant the book and not the fact that my Halloween basket is now empty of all candy.)

I think that if a book is touting itself as a modern telling of an old classic, the writing would have to be similar. It wasn't.

This book was all over the place when it came to the narrative. The main narrator was a dead Mennonite bishop, who told you what the characters were feeling, thinking and why. Then the cha
Jul 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-book, kindle
The story and narration were excellent. This book was written in a unique manner. It's written in the point of view of Amos and Rebecca. As we learn at the beginning of the story Amos has passed on to glory. He peers down from heaven. I really enjoyed this. The author provides a rich depthness to this story. The narration adds an extra dimension as well. My favorite character that the narrator voices is Ida Mae. As we learn in the story, so many life altering secrets have been kept, which come t ...more
Aug 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
I loved. loved, love every second I spent reading this book.

Five pages that I hoped wouldn't be what they were became what they are. Nevertheless, I can't recommend this book highly enough.

I read this book every time I had a few minutes to spare and for long as I could without outside interruptions.

What a story and character weaver this author is - She captured me on page one and held me hostage for the rest of the journey. Lucky me.

I will be looking for any and all other books wr
"Let men tremble to win the hand of woman, unless they win along with it the utmost passion of her heart. "- The Scarlet Letter

3.5 out of 5 stars

Setting:Copper Creek, Tennessee and Pennsylvania; 2013

Coverly Love?:It's evocative and haunting to the story, but it's rather plain.

Plot:Rachel Stoltzfus is a fallen woman. Being an unmarried, pregnant woman in an Old Order Mennonite community is never a good combination, especially when she refuses to repent her sin AND name the father of her son, Eli. Because of this, she is unceremoniously cast out into theplain.
Apr 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: amish-mennonite
Ok. Not really bad but not as good as other books I’d give a 3. So maybe 2.5. I did not at all enjoy the constant narration of the deceased bishop, father of the two main male characters. It bordered on creepy. It was unnecessary. I would have preferred all characters doing their own POV and skipped the first person of Rachel, and I normally don’t mind first person. Overall awkward. Favorite character... Ida Mae.
Mar 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed-books
"He shakes his head and smiles, swallows his small mouthful of food. For a country-raised Mennonite, he has impeccable manners, which only emphasizes my belief that you can look the part of the honored bishop but still be a barbarian inside."

Written in an engaging combination of voices, Jolina Petersheim’s stunning debut novel, The Outcast, tells the story of a young Mennonite woman battling a secret foe, one whose position in their community offers him the perfect opportunity to hur
Rebecca (whenallotherlightsgoout)
The Outcast
By Jolina Petersheim
Completed 12-27-13
5 stars

I really don’t know where to begin in reviewing this book. I feel that I cannot accurately put my thoughts into words on a page. I will start off by saying that I have not read any Amish/Mennonite fiction before. I never thought any of it looked interesting. I have not even read the Scarlet Letter, though I do know the story line of that book. I am not even sure what caused me to pick up The Outcast. It was a n
Laura Kay Bolin
Mar 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviews

The story begins midpoint. Rachel has already given birth to her child, and is already feeling the scorn of her Mennonite community. Her parents are not there with her, she had come to TN to help her twin sister while she was on bedrest. From the their beginning you realize the scorn her brother-in-law, Tobias King feels for her--how desperately he wants her out of his home. The first chance he gets he sends her on her way, separating her from her twin. Rachel begins to make a new life
Shari Larsen
Sep 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
According to the cover on this book, this story is a modern day retelling of The Scarlet Letter. I know a little bit of what that story is about, but I have never read it, so I can't really say how this book compares. I can say though, that I thoroughly enjoyed this well written story, and you do not even have to be familiar with The Scarlet Letter before reading The Outcast; this story stands alone well.

Rachel Stoltzfus was raised in an Old Order Mennonite community. While she is li
Carla Stewart
Oct 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
From the moment I heard the premise of this book I wanted to read it (the retelling of Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter). Although it has an Amish-looking cover, there was something intriguing about it that set it apart. I gave the sample a try and found it breathtaking. Jolina's writing shines bright in this gripping story of twin sisters, one married, the other with an infant born out of wedlock and adamant about not revealing who the father is. I enjoyed the alternate points of view as Amos obs ...more
Jul 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Rachel Stoltzfus has been shunned and removed from her old order Mennonite community. She has born a child out of wedlock and refuses to reveal who the father is. She had left her home in Pennsylvania to care for her twin sister Leah, ill after the birth of her child. Much tension exists between Rachel and Leah's husband Tobias. Unable to return to her home in Pennsylvania due to being shunned by her father, Rachel finds refuge with Ida Mae. Ida Mae has her own secrets and a past filled with pai ...more
Carolyn E
Jul 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
What a wonderful story!! This one actually gets 6 or 7 stars; it is a "must read." I am eagerly looking forward to the release of Jolina Petersheim's next book, "The Midwife," scheduled for release in the summer of 2014.
extraordinary ordinary whimsy
Compelling and a bit sexy and mysterious. But at the core you carry a marvelous message about the soul-eating cancer that jealousy can be and the incredible resilience of family.

You are a masterfully crafted tale that stands tall above the rest. I will recommend you again and again.
Jul 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: christianity, 2013

This book caught my eye with its subtitle naming it as a modern retelling of the Scarlet Letter. I reluctantly loved the required reading in High School and reveled over the symbolism throughout. When I picked up this book I was immediately drawn in by my previous love, but quickly won over to this new telling of the familiar story. Rachel is a young Mennonite girl with a secret. She is with child and not about to reveal the father's name. So as a result, she carries the burden of the gui
Jalynn Patterson
Jun 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
About the Book:
Raised in an Old Order Mennonite community, Rachel Stoltzfus is a strong-willed single woman, content living apart from mainstream society until whispers stir the moment her belly swells with new life. Refusing to repent and name the partner in her sin, Rachel feels the wrath of the religious sect as she is shunned by those she loves most. She is eventually coerced into leaving by her brother-in-law, the bishop.
But secrets run deep in this cloistered community, and the
Melissa Crytzer Fry
Aug 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I’ve been a fan of Jolina Petersheim’s exquisitely written blog for years, and we’ve become good friends with shared writing interests – and, as it turns out, some Pennsylvania similarities. To say I was excited about her debut is an understatement.

It’s uncanny that when I began reading The Outcast, I was actually in my native Pennsylvania, an area that – over the past few years – has grown to be the home of many Amish from the Lancaster, PA area (from which Jolina’s family hails). G
Cindy Williams
Sep 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing

I was provided a copy of Jolina Petersheim ‘s book entitled The outcast by Tyndale publishing through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I will start out as I loved every aspect of this book. The cover grabbed my eye and promised to me that I would find a very interesting story within its pages. I was not disappointed!
The narration of the story goes back and forth between two characters. We have Rachel, whom the story is basically about (ahem – the modern adulteress) an
Jul 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Rachel Stoltzfus finds herself single and pregnant making her the talk of her Old Order Mennonite community. She is living with her twin sister Leah and her husband Tobias King, she was helping when Leah had a problem pregnancy and continues to live there as her dad won't let her come home to live since she is an outcast.

She refuses to disclose the father of the baby and soon finds herself leaving her sisters house and living with Ida Mae Speck who has left her Old Order Mennonite co
Tina Watson
You don't want to miss out on reading this book!!

We all know how powerful SECRETS can be and how damaging they can be when they are set free from our souls. It's how we move forward from the secret that is important.

This book The Outcast: a modern retelling of The Scarlet Letter is so much better than the original The Scarlet Letter. Jolina Petersheim did an excellent job bring The Scarlet Letter up to modern times with her own twist on the story. Yes, it was written with the setting in an Old Order Mennonite c
Beckie Burnham
Jul 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
There have been so many glowing reviews of Jolina Petersheim’s debut novel, The Outcast, that I was intrigued by this book. Add the fact that it was inspired by The Scarlet Letter, I knew I had to read it sooner than later. I purchased the audiobook and took off on my morning walks becoming immersed in Rachel’s life, her struggles and heartbreak. The Outcast was a book I just could not put down, er, turn off! Great writing, characters and plot — this novel has it all and gets a very highly recom ...more
Jul 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Nancee by:
Outstanding Debut Novel!

Jolina Petersheim has authored a brilliant debut novel portraying a pregnant, unmarried, Old Order Mennonite girl, and the resultant incriminations and repercussions her condition has elicited from her family and community members. She has been rejected and forsaken for committing adultery, but she refuses to divulge the identification of the man who fathered her unborn child. Sheltered and fostered by a former Mennonite woman, she finds peace and a safe haven
Jan 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
SUMMARY: Raised in an Old Order Mennonite community, Rachel Stoltzfus is a strong-willed single woman, content living apart from mainstream society until whispers stir the moment her belly swells with new life. Refusing to repent and name the partner in her sin, Rachel feels the wrath of the religious sect as she is shunned by those she loves most. She is eventually coerced into leaving by her brother-in-law, the bishop.

But secrets run deep in this cloistered community, and the bisho
Debora Wilder
Jul 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads-won
This is a very entertaining book!

The front cover of the book calls it “a modern retelling of The Scarlet Letter.” This is a very apt description of the story that Jolina has written. She has crafted a very intricate tale of a young woman, Rachel Stoltzfus, whose sin is visible for all to see. The deep complexities come about through the secrets that are kept hidden. How far should someone go in keeping secrets to protect another person that they love?

The characters are so
J.E.B. Spredemann
Jun 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: amish-fiction
First of all, let me say that I think Jolina is a wonderful wordsmith and a talented author. I don't think anyone would disagree.

I enjoyed the story, and it made me cry (which is a good thing), but it wasn't as similar to the Scarlet Letter as I thought it would be. To me, the story resembled the Biblical account of David and Bathsheba more than anything, and also that of Rachel and Leah.

The story is told in the first-person, with alternating viewpoints.

My rat
April Suter
Jul 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
My mother did not like this novel at all, I however did, as you can tell by my rating. However, the cover is deceiving because the child is not that old at all during the novel.
Everyone sins, but some sins are more public than others. If you become pregnant when you are not married everyone knows what you did, but the father of the baby is not always as obvious, especially when denial and judgment is displayed first. This novel has many strings and is weaved into a story in that you root f
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Jolina Petersheim is the highly acclaimed author of How the Light Gets In, The Divide, The Alliance, The Midwife, and The Outcast, which Library Journal called "outstanding . . . fresh and inspirational" in a starred review and named one of the best books of 2013. That book also became an ECPA, CBA, and Amazon bestseller and was featured in Huffington Post's Fall Picks, USA Today, Publishers Weekl ...more