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The Alliance

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When Leora Ebersole sees the small plane crash in her Old Order Mennonite community, she has no idea it's a foreshadowing of things to come. When the young pilot, Moses Hughes, regains consciousness, they realize his instruments were destroyed by the same power outage that killed the electricity at the community store, where Englischers are stranded with dead cell phones and cars that won't start.

Moses offers a sobering theory, but no one can know how drastically life is about to change. With the only self-sustaining food supply in the region, the Pacifist community is forced to forge an alliance with the handful of stranded Englischers in an effort to protect not only the food but their very lives.

In the weeks that follow, Leora, Moses, and the community will be tested as never before, requiring them to make decisions they never thought possible. Whom will they help and whom will they turn away? When the community receives news of a new threat, everyone must decide how far they're willing to go to protect their beliefs and way of life.

354 pages, Hardcover

First published June 1, 2016

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About the author

Jolina Petersheim

10 books532 followers
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 Weekly, and the Tennessean. CBA Retailers + Resources called her second book, The Midwife, "an excellent read [that] will be hard to put down," and Booklist selected The Alliance as one of their Top 10 Inspirational Fiction Titles for 2016. The Alliance was also a finalist for the 2017 Christy Award in the Visionary category. The sequel to The Alliance, The Divide, won the 2018 INSPY Award for Speculative Fiction. Jolina's non-fiction writing has been featured in Reader's Digest, Writer's Digest, Today's Christian Woman, and Proverbs 31 Ministries. She and her husband share the same unique Amish and Mennonite heritage that originated in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, but they now live in the mountains of Tennessee with their three young daughters. Jolina's fifth novel, How the Light Gets In, a modern retelling of Ruth set in a cranberry bog in Wisconsin, released in March 2019.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 233 reviews
Profile Image for Beth.
783 reviews320 followers
July 19, 2016
I am a big fan of Jolina’s work, so when I heard she had a new book coming this year, it immediately went on my wish list – when I heard the premise of the story – about the loss of technology and its rippling effect on an Old Order Mennonite community, I couldn’t wait to read it. In The Alliance, Jolina brings her knowledge of the Mennonite faith, while bringing in the element of societal collapse.

The story did unfold in a totally different way than I was expecting, but that is in no way a bad thing. It is about the ramifications of this catastrophic event for the Mennonite community, especially in regards to how they would interact when the outside world appeared at their gate. There are some moments of danger and action, but readers expecting the typical “end-of-the-world,” apocalyptic tale might find a slower pace due to its more introspective, character-driven nature. I think this set up is perfect for starting with a strong, unpredictable beginning with the next book.

Told in alternating chapters from both Leora Ebersole, a young Mennonite woman, and Moses Hughes, an outsider whose plane crashed inside the community, the story is both about the danger of the outside, as well as the question of how far she and the community are willing to uphold their beliefs despite the potential risk to their very lives. Leora’s life up to this point hasn’t been easy, and even before the outside world begins to collapse, she has already been having doubts about her way of life and what is expected of her as a Mennonite woman. Once things begin to happen, she is forced to face these doubts and make decisions based on feelings that she hasn’t truly come to terms with yet. Moses is probably the more secretive of the two; the allusions to his past are general enough that he keeps readers at arms-length, but with enough specifics to leave me with a strong wish to learn more in book two. There is a bit of a love triangle, which I usually don’t like, but in this case, it felt right and gave another layer to the plot.

Because it was so focused on Leora and Moses, sometimes I did want a bigger picture of how things were in the community as a whole, however, it also made it a very personal, though-provoking read – I wondered the entire time whether or not I’d do what Leora or Moses was choosing to do – if not, what would I do? I love books that make me question myself, especially when I’m challenged and humbled by the initial direction of my thoughts, and The Alliance definitely did that for me. I’m not sure if this was on purpose or not, but I often felt frustrated by not knowing just how bad things were outside of the community, then I realized that must be exactly how the characters felt. Despite them choosing to continue their lives as usual – other than an alliance with the stranded Englischers, of course – there was an overall atmosphere of foreboding because they didn’t know what was happening, who might come for them or when.

I was enthralled with The Alliance, a story both similar and different from Jolina’s previous books. It has the Old Order Mennonite connection, with the unique premise of how they would react in the event of a widespread breakdown of society. I eagerly await the next book to see what becomes of Moses, Leora and her family, and the community as a whole. I feel that The Alliance has just scratched the surface of what they are willing to sacrifice to preserve their way of life and what they are willing to let go and wait with great anticipation to find out what comes next.

This review first appeared on Straight Off the Page: http://straightoffthepage.com/the-all.... A copy was provided to me for review purposes. The opinions expressed in my review are my own.
Profile Image for Juli.
1,897 reviews495 followers
November 20, 2017
Leora Ebersole lives in an Old Order Mennonite Community in Montana. Both of her parents are gone so she is responsible for her younger brother and sister. Life suddenly changes for Leora, the entire community and thousands of other people when an EMP bomb takes out all technology. Anything with computer components instantly stops working -- cell phones, newer vehicles, airplanes, appliances...most of modern technology. Poof! All gone in an instant. A pilot, Moses Hughes, crashes near their community but survives. Hughes and other Englishers who were visiting the Mennonite community join with the community to protect its residents, food supplies and buildings from the hordes of survivors they all know will be coming soon. Thousands of people will be streaming out of cities, looking for food and shelter, desperate to survive. Can the Mennonite Community stay true to its Christian beliefs of non-violence and kindness in the midst of a large-scale disaster?

I'm on a bit of a disaster story kick at the moment. This book sounded interesting, and I wasn't disappointed. It's definitely Christian fiction, but it's not preachy or overdone. The story really brought out the fact that everyone would be effected by a disaster that nullifies technology, even communities that shun modern conveniences. The Mennonites have to deal with dwindling food supplies, waste disposal, clean water, and safety just like everyone else. They have to revert to old ways of farming, building and cooking, and bend their beliefs a bit to protect themselves from violent gangs, thieves and hordes of desperate survivors.

I liked how the characters are thrown together with no warning and have to learn to work together, despite very different views. They learn to compromise for the good of the entire group.

There is a second book in this series, The Divide. I can't wait to read it so I can find out what happens next!

To find out more about the author, check out her website: http://www.jolinapetersheim.com/

Profile Image for Allison Tebo.
Author 19 books349 followers
August 30, 2019
I’m not a fan of Amish or Mennonite fiction and I’m not a particular enthusiast of dystopia – but the idea that someone had combined the two genres struck me as so unique that I decided to pick this up. Perhaps pairing two genres that I didn’t particularly like would make something new and exciting that would appeal to me?

Unfortunately, that was not the case and it just ended up being a double portion of #nope. I would have been willing to finish the entire book just out of sheer curiosity, but the extra-biblical beliefs of the community featured in this novel coupled with the infuriatingly pacifist message (also extra-biblical) frustrated me so much that I couldn’t finish the novel.
Profile Image for Jamie Lapeyrolerie .
512 reviews118 followers
June 13, 2016
Contrary to my obsession with an apocalyptic show that starts with a “W” and ends with a “Alking Dead,” I don’t read a ton of apocalyptic style literature. Outside of the previously mentioned show, for the most part I don’t like scary things, so there aren’t many books I’d normally pick up. Yet, as soon as I heard about this one from Jolina Petersheim (The Outcast is still one of my favs), I knew I was in for something different. I’m so glad I grabbed this one!

“What if the unpredictable road leads to the only destination worth reaching in the end?”

What an original and unique story Jolina has given us readers! I love how she does that with her novels. It’s refreshing, entertaining and her books force readers to grapple with what they would do in such situations. The Alliance does just that.

One of the things I really enjoyed about this novel was that you felt what the people felt. They were confused and for the small Mennonite community, for the first time ever had to deal with realities that push them in ways they have never imagined. I also thought she did a really great job with the character development of both Moses and Leora. Two people from very different worlds and now thrown together in order to survive and protect those they love – it kept me hooked the whole way through.

It’s always interesting to compare how different “end of the world” stories show how a world would collapse if something life-altering happened to the planet. I think they often show much of the same – and sadly I think it’s accurate.

This is also a book that forces the reader to stop and take a moment to think about what they would do in such a situation and also come to the conclusion that it might not be so black and white after all. I definitely recommend!

Have you read any of Jolina’s books? Do you have a favorite?

(Thank you to Tyndale for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)

Originally posted at http://booksandbeverages.org/2016/06/...
Profile Image for Amanda Geaney.
431 reviews279 followers
May 17, 2016
Wildly unpredictable — The Alliance is unlike any other book I've ever read! Set in Northern Montana near Glacier National Park, in a community of Old Order Mennonites. These are salt of the earth folks who thrive on faith, farming, and food storage. When an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) brings Moses Hughes' plane crashing into their midst, the people are not prepared for the warning he gives. According to Moses, cities will be thrown into chaos by the EMP and when food becomes scarce the "locust" will show up at their doorstep in force. The overarching question becomes how this group of pacifists will respond to such a threat.

Leora and Moses provide the lens through which readers view the unfolding events. Like the majority of books I’ve read in this genre, these characters remain chaste. However, the physical attraction and romantic tension between these two smolders. Both are given extensive backstories, yet I never felt like I could anticipate their choices or the eventual outcome of the story. In the end, this unpredictability was one of my favorite elements of the book.

The Alliance is original, unpredictable, and compelling. I believe readers who do not gravitate to bonnet fiction will enjoy The Alliance. This is the second book I’ve read by Jolina Petershiem and, as with The Midwife, I feel she uses the Mennonite faith to provide the moral and social parameters of her stories without allowing it to steal the show. The characters remain real and their struggles relevant to today’s Christians. I recommend adding The Alliance to your summer reading list.

I received this book from the author for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Profile Image for Jen .
2,658 reviews27 followers
March 21, 2017
My thanks to NetGalley and Tyndale House Publishers for an eARC copy of this book to read and review.

Nothing but spoilers, please be warned. Do not read below this point if you do not want plot points to be spoiled for you.

Ok, the positives. EMP pulse, ends the world as we know it. Setting, Mennonite community in Montana. The Mennonites live simple lives, kind of like the Amish. The author has a Mennonite/Amish background. I'm assuming former, since she is writing books. But that is an assumption on my part. Mennonites are pacifists. The town ten miles away are regular people who can't live off of the land like they can. Conflict will ensue.

SO. I expected REALISM regarding the Mennonite community. The author seems to come from a place that should be full of knowledge of the Mennonite people. That intrigued me. What ended up making things fall apart?

Two, horrendous, shouldn't have a THING to do with the plot AT ALL words.

Love. Triangle.


Main characters, two Mennonite young adults, Leora a 19 year old in charge of her 16 year old simple minded sister and her 13 year old brother since their father left and mother died. She's feisty and independent and speaks up to the men in the group! Not very believable for that society. Jabil, a 21 year old who is going to be the group's leader when the older leaders pass. He has been unsuccessfully wooing Leora for YEARS. But he won't give up. Man has persistence. He also makes decisions without going to the leaders first. Moses, Englischer whose plane crashes into a field on the Mennonite community when the power goes out. Not sure of his age. He is a Marine who has seen combat. A warrior who catches Leora's attention, as she catches his as well, with her feisty, independent ways.


Despite the elders being in charge, you NEVER see things from their POV, only the three characters above. Now, I don't know much about Mennonites, but I would assume that they pray to the Lord for guidance when they have problems they have never dealt with before. If something is pulling on their moral values, I would assume that they would pray for guidance about it, rather than go full bore with that they think is best.

As per this book, I would be wrong. Other than to say "God will provide" and once in a while to stress that they can't defend themselves, because pacifists, God doesn't really come much into this story. Which is a shame, because I think having Him as a major character, along with the elders and their struggle to do the right thing, would have given the book more depth and realism instead of having the three young adults acting all jealous and hormone-y as the girl bounced back and forth between the two guys.

End of the world people!! Love triangles aren't the most important thing!

I do believe that things would fall apart if an EMP went off, however this could be me, I think the people of Montana are probably pretty able to take care of themselves and resourceful. I'm assuming they hunt and fish and can probably garden at the least. And they most likely have weapons with which to defend themselves.

The town/city ten miles from the Mennonite compound doesn't seem to sound all that large, so I doubt that less than five days after the EMP goes off that you are going to have looting and gangs rising up to take over. And the Mennonites are only ten miles away. I could definitely see a group from the city/town going over there to see about an exchange of knowledge/ideas/goods. Mennonites need people to protect them, city folk need to learn how to do things the old-fashion way. I would like to think that the people in a smaller town/city would have closer ties to one another too, so the breakdown of society would be harder. Again, I don't know how large the city/town is. It's referred to as both in the book, so could be larger than I imagine it is.

But no, gangs take over five days in and 11 days in, refugees are streaming out of the city, to the Mennonites, who feed, medic and water them, but keep the refugees moving. Doesn't sound very Christian to me. They couldn't come up with a better way? Maybe not, but still, we don't get to see the decision making process, just the end result.

Then, we get to the part where the mentally challenged beautiful sister is possibly raped. And that's when I tapped out. Whether she was or was not is not the point. I'm just so sick and tired of rape being used as a plot device, which it was here.


The blood on her was from her shot dead cat, not being assaulted.

ALSO, somehow drugs were involved? And the father disappeared because he was involved? I skipped to the end to see if I should read past the 56% mark and when I saw that hooey, I completely threw in the towel.

Not a bad book, just completely not for me. I was looking for a book that focused more on the interactions between the Mennonite leaders and the Englischer community, for how they worked to survive, how things worked, how things didn't. For religious beliefs to come into play as decisions regarding life or death were made.

What I got? Mennonites who didn't act like I would expect (granted, I don't know any Mennonites, maybe they WOULD act like that, but I somehow doubt it) and a love triangle at the end of the world. Meh. Not for me. Two stars, because I had high hopes that were dashed, but I didn't hate it. Great idea, just not executed in a way I enjoyed.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Cheryl Olson.
225 reviews99 followers
July 27, 2017
There is just something about Jolina Petersheim's writing voice that I really, really like. She just manages to capture the inner turmoil that her characters are going through in such an authentic way. In The Alliance you get a look at the end of the world as we know it brought on by an EMP ( Electro-magnetic pulse) that knocks out all electricity, cell phones, etc. The 2 main characters in this story- Leora, a disillusioned Mennonite who has faced more than her share of hard times, and Moses - a former soldier and another who has faced more than his fair share of hard times. These 2 very different characters manage to find each other and perhaps it's their pain that most draws them together. They both recognize each other's pain and completely understand and empathize with each other. It's interesting though, that while they are romantically drawn to each other, I would definitely not say that that is the main draw of the book. I think it's much more about what happens with us and our faith when we are struck down by the tragedies of life again and again- does it grow stronger, or do we tend to just depend more and more on ourselves? The control issue that Leora has is one that I think many of us can relate to as well. But what happens when things happen that are completely out of our control? I cannot wait to read the next book The Divide and see what happens to these 2 characters.

4.5 stars- excellent read!
Profile Image for Staci.
1,782 reviews540 followers
September 24, 2016
The Alliance delivers a story that is different than what is typically found in Christian Fiction.

Jolina Petersheim pens a love story amidst the chaos of the unknown. In a Mennonite community the power goes out not only with electricity, but to all electronics. There are a few Englishers in the community buying products when it happens. A pilot crashes in a field in the community. This blend of the human race is then at a decision point - what now?

The journey of watching the Memmonite and Englishers work together through the crisis was delightful. Even better though was learning how different people react in a time of crisis.

My only struggle was with keeping straight the switch in first person voice between Moses and Leora. At times I had to go back and see which one was speaking. For me that says their voices were not as unique as they could have been. Please don't let this minor issue dissuade you from reading the novel. It was very well done and I enjoyed it immensely.

I didn't realize it was a series until the final page. Now the wait begins...
Profile Image for Lynda.
405 reviews21 followers
January 5, 2017
I don't spend a lot of time reading Amish or Mennonite fiction—it just isn't my preference—so I guess it isn't surprising that this is my first read authored by Jolina Petersheim. As is often the case for me, the cover is a major drawing factor, perhaps more so this time around because I wouldn't ordinarily pick up a book with a black buggy on the cover. Kudos have to go to the designer: the elements are juxtaposed in such a way that I had to ask how a buggy, an airplane, and a clothesline could possibly go together, and the mysterious haze blanketing everything else necessitated my reading the back of the book. Once the plot synopsis of this novel piqued my interest, the first page became automatic and the story was nearly impossible to put down!

There are a lot of things to enjoy here: an intriguing plot, realistic characters, mounting tension and suspense, and a culture clash that leaves the reader unsettled at even the calmer moments in the story. Several times I found myself wondering how something the author had set up could possibly work, and every time, not only did it work, it pulled me even further into the unlikely world Petersheim creates for the reader. How can a pacifist community protect itself from a society that will not hesitate to steal and kill to promote its own survival? Will the Mennonites and Englishers be able to get along and help each other, or will they tear apart their new world from the inside?

Petersheim sets her novel in a faith community and allows that faith to be repeatedly tested, sometimes with success, and other times the characters fail. They are not perfect, which makes them both more realistic and more endearing. I wondered how I would handle the various situations and compared my reactions to theirs, questioning my faith and even humanity. None of us can know for sure how we would respond and I appreciate that this book allows me to explore the landscape of my own mind and heart while viewing things from the safety of fiction.

This book is at once outstanding and terrifying, made more so by the frighteningly plausible scenario the reader is immersed in from the opening page. I would highly recommend this novel to anyone—yes, anyone who reads and has the maturity to handle apocalyptic fiction. It has elements of romance, action, suspense, and mystery, with characters to root for and questions that need to be answered. My only word of caution would be to wait until the next book comes out if you are a reader who can't stand a cliffhanger because this novel leaves us waiting impatiently for the conclusion in the upcoming release, The Divide.

I received a free copy of this book through The Book Club Network (bookfun.org), but no compensation for this review. I was not required to write a favorable one and the thoughts expressed are both honest and my own.
Profile Image for Tori.
32 reviews
January 14, 2016
I thought this was a great read! Jolina Petersheim is a new author to me, and I was pretty impressed with this book. She has a way of writing that makes you actually feel the atmosphere around you as she describes her scenes. It had a bit of a dark feeling around it, but it was fitting for the story.

This book had a wonderful “what would you do?” quality to it, that really makes you stop and examine your own thoughts and feelings. How would you react if you were faced with a cataclysmic event that might put your own family in jeopardy? Would it shake your faith? Would you trust God, or would you put your faith in man?

I was sad when I got to the end of it and realized that there was going to be a sequel. The story wasn’t necessarily left on a “cliff-hanger”, so to speak, but there is so much more to the story that has yet to unfold. (I may have given this a 4½ stars if it weren’t for this.) Normally, this would be a huge thumbs down for me, but in this instance, I would definitely purchase the second book to find out how it all ends. Not many authors can make me feel that way when I am left without a conclusion!
Profile Image for Alyssa.
571 reviews193 followers
July 13, 2016
The Alliance is a really cool, but really weird apocalyptic-mennonite novel. I have never read a novel that mixes these two worlds and I must say Jolina did an amazing job meshing the two together to create one of the most original books I have ever read. The Alliance was unpredictable, enthralling, full of twists and turns and completely crazy...but in a good way. (If you caught that band reference, you're awesome!). It was a very refreshing read and I recommend it to everybody. Seriously, put this on your TBR.
5,531 reviews
February 12, 2016
The Alliance is a fabulous read. It seems Jolina Petersheim's talent keeps getting better and better with every book she writes. This book has a wonderful lesson for all to learn. I loved everything about this story.
Highly recommended.
5 plus stars.
Profile Image for Melissa Tagg.
Author 29 books1,490 followers
March 18, 2019
Okay, so...I read Jolina Petersheim's newest book, How the Light Gets In, on Friday and Saturday...and I LOOOOOVED IT. Like...obsessively sent texts to reader/writer friends about how amazing it is (that twist!!)...and then I realized I had another book, The Alliance, by the same author on my kindle that I hadn't read yet simply because it's not really in my usual reading genre of choice.

And I read the entire thing on Sunday. I mean...could. not. stop.

And now I'm reading the sequel. And I'm still obsessed. And man, what a great reminder to me to read outside my usual genre!

Anyway, back to The Alliance. This book, simply put, blew me away. The incredibly intriguing premise kicks off right on the first page and I was IN. I adore Moses. And I love the clash of values and beliefs going on inside Leora through the entire book. Even though she—and her whole community—are dealing with intense, heightened circumstances, her journey of "Do I actually believe what I think I believe?" resonated with me so strongly. When my own beliefs are tested by circumstances or harsh realities around me, will I still hold on to them? How do values that sometimes feel black-and-white stack up to the very gray and nuanced world I live in?

The characters and their emotional journeys, the plot and pacing, the writing—all of it quite honestly held me spellbound as I read. And now I'm itching to finish up this review and get back to the sequel!!
Profile Image for Kate Willis.
Author 19 books509 followers
August 15, 2023
I've been dying to read this book for a while now, and I nearly squealed when I found it at a used bookstore.

I really enjoyed the opening and the concept of the book. The romance was sweet, and I knew immediately who she should choose since the other guy was possessive and misogynistic. 😒 I also really liked Anna and sweet Colton.

Unfortunately, I didn't know going in that this was a duology so I was disappointed to learn almost nothing was resolved and the spoilers from book two's synopsis made me decide to skim the last section.

All in all, I wish the premise had delivered a little more and I had known there was a sequel sooner. 🫣🫣

CW: death, wounds, it is implied a young girl was r*ped.
Profile Image for Nora St Laurent.
1,456 reviews80 followers
July 12, 2016
I was hooked from page one when Leora desperately seeks help from her community to save a man trapped in a small plane as it burst into flames. It was fascinating and scary to read how this situation might play out inside the Amish/Mennonite community and out. I appreciated how this author had readers see everyone’s faith be tested and how the outside community might react. I was surprised there was a mystery to solve in the middle of the suspense and drama as the end of “life” as everyone knew it was over.

This is a sobering look at an all too real crisis situation. One thing the other books I’ve read about on this topic had in common was the fact they mention the Amish community and how it would not be affected by an EMP- Electronic Magnetic Pulse. The pulse would wipe out all technology which they don’t use. This is a unique look at the disaster from within the Amish/Mennonite community.

A plane drops out of the sky and lands in an Amish community’s empty field. Leora and others help the pilot; an Englisher survive. No one knows what’s going on and why Englishers’ cars have stopped running.

Moses (the Englisher) knows exactly what’s up. When he’s physically able he speaks to the Mennonite council. He tells them, “Life as we knew it might be extinct. Honestly this is way beyond all of us…what I see is this: the cities will get hit hardest first. Food will run out in the grocery stores in a day or two, and there’ll be looting and crime almost instantly. Most Americans are so reliant on fast food or stopping at the Supermarket after work…when food runs out… then the exodus out of the city will begin…”

The council says to Moses, “We will not fight these – locusts, as you call them…fighting back is not our way and is certainly not Gott’s way. Our people have been practicing nonresistance since the 1600’s…If these strangers come as you say they will… we will be like Christ, we will love one another…””If that is a problem, anyone is free to leave at any time.”

There’s the rub Moses has been in combat, has seen the locusts up-close and personal. Matters can get pretty ugly and deadly real quick. He knew the danger. He wasn’t going to sit by and watch this community be demolished. They had no idea what was instore! He continues, “If I’m right, it’s a huge benefit that everyone will be prepared when things really get tough…if, I’m wrong – and I doubt that I am, but if I am wrong – what’s the problem with running people through a drill of worst-case scenarios?”

I enjoyed how this author unfolds the situation. I also liked that it was written from the POV of an Englisher – Moses – x-military, suffered from PSTD and someone who walked away from his faith and through the POV of a young nineteen year old Mennonite girl named Leora. Leora has cared for her siblings since their father disappeared and her mother died. She is an independent woman with a strong faith that is tested to the max.

Unexpected complications arise for this young lady as her feelings for the Englisher grow strong and Jabil a young Mennonite boy who’s had feelings for her for years; notices that attraction. He’s wanted to court Leora and is sad she doesn’t feel for him what he’s noticed she feels for this outsider. She told him they were friends, good friends, he was a safe man, not someone she’d love that way. Was Leora wrong to hold out for true love? Both Leora and Moses and Jabil agree this is not a time for romance. Leora is passionate about her view on love. She says, …”I’d rather die knowing there is a possibility of love than live in safety without it.”

I liked how these characters evolved as they faced new challenges, tough issues and choices that had to be made. This is a scenario everyone needs to learn about so they can be prepared. Many in our country are making plans to survive an EMP even now. .

The author ended the novel on a hopeful note and in such a way that left it open for a sequel. This would make a great read and/or book club pick. There are twelve discussion questions to help ignite a lively discussion for your book club meeting. This is the first novel I’ve read by this author it won’t be the last. Add it to your summer reading list. This is a must read!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from The Book Club Network; Tyndale publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”

Nora St. Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins! www.bookfun.org
The Book Club Network blog www.psalm516.blogspot.com
Book Fun Magazine www.bookfunmagazine.com
Profile Image for Rachel Brand.
1,043 reviews98 followers
June 19, 2016
I have been a little late in joining Jolina Petersheim’s fan club. She entered the Amish scene around the time that I was getting a bit burned out and took a break from it. In spite of my desire to move on to a different genre, I couldn’t escape the glowing reviews of Jolina’s debut novel—especially those written by people who wouldn’t normally touch Amish fiction—and finally listened to both The Outcast and The Midwife on audiobook. (Sidenote—Tavia Gilbert is an amazing narrator. She could probably recite the dictionary and make it sound riveting). Her books are not your typical Amish fare, so if you’re in the same boat as me and a little tired of the standard plots found in this genre, I’d urge you to give Jolina Petersheim a shot. It’ll be worth it!

The subject matter of Jolina’s first two novels were pretty challenging and controversial—out of wedlock pregnancy and surrogacy—but The Alliance definitely takes it a notch higher. I wasn’t sure if I’d have time to review The Alliance, but when I saw the synopsis I knew I had to try to squeeze it into my schedule. How could I pass up a post-apocalyptic Mennonite novel? On the one hand, this mash up of genres sounds totally off the wall, but on the other hand, who hasn’t watched a post-apocalyptic film and not thought, “Well, we’ll be screwed if this happens, but the Amish will be sorted with their buggies and self-sustaining farms”? I’m actually kind of surprised no one has written about this before. It’s a fascinating premise.

In spite of the chaos that occurs at the start of The Alliance, the majority of the novel feels pretty slow moving. Sure, a pilot has just crash-landed in Leora’s field, but their lives don’t change dramatically as a result of whatever has happened to the world. Leora’s Mennonite community are still pretty safe in their little technology-free bubble. Tough decisions need to be made about protecting their community and rationing food, but a large chunk of the book kind of feels like it’s spent waiting for something big to happen.

If you’re wanting a book that delves into the catastrophic effects of an EMP or the desperate levels people will go to in order to survive, this probably isn’t the one for you—although I do wonder if these issues will be explored more in the sequel. The Alliance is definitely more of a character study of how two very different people struggle to come to terms with their faith and convictions in the face of unknown dangers and a world that has rapidly changing. To begin with, Leora and Moses appear to be polar opposites, but as the novel develops we see how they’re actually very alike, in spite of their very different backgrounds.

Leora isn’t your typical Amish woman, and I’ve seen some reviews complaining about this. Personally, I don’t think it would have been all that interesting to read about a Mennonite woman who refused to compromise on her beliefs in the face of a terrifying post-apocalyptic future. The fact that Leora does consider the possibility of bearing arms to protect her siblings, and is angry that she doesn’t get to vote on how the community moves forward just because she’s female, make her all the more fascinating and relatable. It’s easy to hold true to our convictions when life is safe and consistent, but not so straight-forward when we’re facing an uncertain and dangerous future. I got the impression that Leora had been grappling with parts of her faith before the EMP occurred, and this event was the catalyst that forced her to really reassess whether she truly aligned to the Mennonite belief system.

Moses felt a bit more distant than Leora, and I hope his character is developed further in the sequel. His backstory and beliefs are slowly trickled out over the course of the novel, but I felt like there was still more to know and understand about him. I appreciated that he helped to reaffirm Leora’s faith rather than dragging her further away from it, and challenged her whenever she suggested something out of character. Moses was definitely a bit more Alpha than I like my heroes, but I probably prefer him to Jabil Snyder. A few reviewers have claimed that there’s a love-triangle in The Alliance, but I’m not entirely certain if one exists. Jabil may be actively vying for Leora’s affections, but I never felt like she seriously considered him as a prospect. I appreciated the clear differences between Jabil’s desire to protect Leora, and Moses trying to balance keeping her safe and treating her like the mature free-thinking adult she is.

A lot happens at the end of this novel, and I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about it all. The love-triangle (if you want to call it that) isn’t resolved, and I’m kind of glad about that as it’s actually pretty realistic to have a budding romance interrupted by disaster and action when your novel is set during an apocalypse, right? Still, so much happened at the conclusion of this novel and I may venture to suggest that maybe too much occurred all at once, especially given the sudden change of pace. A long-lost family member of Leora’s is thrown into the mix, along with a surprising backstory that kind of felt like it came out of nowhere. A subplot about Leora’s younger sister is cleared up a rather anti-climatic fashion. I will admit that I read an ARC, and maybe these two issues are woven into the plot better in the final version of the book? I also didn’t realise that there would be a sequel to this book, so I expected the story to wrap up at the conclusion, not ramp up into a cliffhanger, so I may have felt differently if I’d been aware that this was not a standalone novel.

It’s been a few days and I’m still kind of reeling from all the fast-paced action and tension at the end of The Alliance. Even if I didn’t find the conclusion to this novel entirely satisfactory, I unequivocally recommend this book to anyone who a) is intrigued by post-apocalyptic scenarios, b) wants to see something entirely different done with the Amish genre, or c) just wants proof that Christian novels don’t have to be cheesy and can actually be beautifully and skilfully written. I’m not sure how long we’ll have to wait for The Divide, but I’m intrigued to see where Jolina takes this community next.
Profile Image for Emily.
1,776 reviews37 followers
April 3, 2019
I was excited about this because I needed to read a Christian Fiction title for a class, and I was worried about finding something I’d like in a genre I never read. The Alliance is such a neat idea: a post-apocalyptic story set in a Mennonite community. It was so creative to focus on people already used to a low-tech, self-sustaining lifestyle and team them up with outsiders to their community, Englischers, to work together for survival after an EMP attack. I hadn’t even considered the complication that most of the characters were pacifists, and how that would figure into a survival story, until I started reading. That angle intrigued me too.
I started feeling lukewarm about it around 65% of the way through. Leora’s internal struggles were getting repetitive, and the love triangle was irksome too. The book ended on a cliffhanger, a guaranteed star-dropper in my book, unless you’re Laini Taylor. The drug element introduced toward the end was one plotline too many, and I didn’t buy it. I liked Moses the most, but I didn’t think his faith journey was developed enough. It felt very sudden when he started making with the God talk. The faith of the community wasn’t delved into as deeply as I would have liked, and that made it feel sort of hollow to me.
Being a longtime Walking Dead fan, and watching the protagonists in that series move farther and farther from their pre-apocalypse moral compass, this book was an interesting contrast. I liked the ideas she was playing with, and I wish I had liked the execution of them more.
Profile Image for Andrea Cox.
Author 3 books1,660 followers
October 5, 2022
I’m always confused by characters who think “fighting back… is not [God’s] way” when there are a plethora of verses in the Bible that show the complete opposite—that God does in fact fight back against evil. Even in the end of time, Jesus will lead God’s armies in the battle of Armageddon. According to Ecclesiastes 3, “there is a time of war” as well as “a time of peace.”

The themes of protecting one’s family, second chances, and true character coming out when the worst happens kept me riveted throughout. The cliffhanger ending ensured I’ll be coming back for the second installment of this duology.

I did find myself skimming at times. I’m not sure if it was my mood or because the story tripped into a drug thing that I wasn’t expecting. I like to have warning for such tales, as I have to be in a certain mindset to enjoy that type of plot line.

Content: alcohol, tattoos, tobacco, replacement profanity, Catholicism, drugs
Profile Image for Daphne Self.
Author 9 books94 followers
April 16, 2017
This was different than what I expected. Compared to other books I have read where the break down of society was evident either through an EMP or dollar collapse, this book ranks high.

The present tense first person narrative was refreshing and it seemed to center me in the story and see it through the eyes of Moses and Leora. This is their story. It doesn't matter the cause of what happened. It doesn't matter what the rest of the world is doing or the pursuit to find out. What matters in this story is how they will survive. How does two people from two separate faiths work together for the good of the community?

Moses believes, but he has PTSD. I cannot reconcile his faith with his past.
Leora believes, but she has to be in control. She cannot reconcile her past with her Mennonite faith.

Somewhere along the line they learn about trust and compromise, but above all how to have faith that God will provide.

The symbolism of Moses' name was not lost to me as this pilot who crashed into the Mennonite community leads them to safety.

Whenever I read Leora's account I could see the conflict and confusion within her. Her past scarred her and it colors her decisions.

Jolina Petersheim portrayed through the eyes of two people thrown into the unknown an accurate assumption of society's downfall. The only negative remark I can make is that I wished for a little more detail in some of the actions and scenes. I felt they were "glossed over" too much and didn't provide a reality like the rest of the book. Overall, it was well written, engaging, and makes the next book a much anticipated read.
Profile Image for -{ Unsolved ☕︎ Mystery }-.
394 reviews111 followers
July 11, 2018

The description makes this book sound so good:
An EMP hits during an average day in an average city.
The vehicles stop. Cell phones are not working.
The city ends.

My feelings throughout this book changed and not for the better.
The writing was pretty much horrible. The continued run-on sentences grated on my nerves.
There are things that happened that were not explained very well, if at all.
The food is dwindling. The gangs are headed to their community.
Half the time, the families in this community didn't even seem that concerned about anything.
I threatened several times to just stop reading it.
I trudged on, hoping it would pick up.
I don't even care about reading the rest in the series.

I see 5 star ratings for this book. I ask myself. "Did they read the same book I did....or what?"
Profile Image for Sarah Beth.
956 reviews34 followers
June 28, 2016
Leora Ebersole is a young nineteen-year-old woman responsible for her younger brother, mentally challenged younger sister, and elderly grandmother in the wake of her father's abandonment and her mother's death. Despite her responsibilities, Leora has lived a sheltered and isolated existence in her Old Order Mennonite community located near the Canadian border. However, that all changes the day a small plane crashes in her community. The young pilot, Moses Hughes, offers a devastating explanation for what has occurred and how the world will change. In the wake of the downfall of electricity and technology, the pacifist community must make hard decisions about how they will approach this calamity and what they're willing to do to protect their families and avoid starvation. This new order tests Leora's faith while at the same time she feels a growing attraction to Moses.

Petersheim should be commended on her unique approach to the popular apocalyptic fiction fad, which originally drew me to this book. In particular, approaching the crisis from the perspective of a pacifist community, but one that has the skills to survive without modern technology, was an interesting approach. Furthermore, I appreciated the faith-based view of this catastrophe, with Leora and her community questioning not only their survival but the implication on their spiritual faith.

However, this is where my appreciation for this novel ended. The writing and characterization was shallow and unpersuasive and was so surface level that there was little distinction between any of the characters. In particular, other than her sister who can't speak, I had little sense of any of Leora's family members by the end of this book. Mennonite and Englischer characters read the same, when their motivations and speech should have been very different. For that matter, the author seems to have done little research on Old Order Mennonite culture, as I found it highly unlikely from the beginning that the community would have heeded Moses' advice to the point that they would alter their lifestyle. Mennonites have maintained their beliefs since the 1600s and it would take more than the word of one pilot to change their course.

Furthermore, I find it doubtful that Leora would have quickly thrown away her pacifist beliefs and spent so much time alone with Moses, despite being raised in a very isolated and strict religious sect. Leora expresses concerns that contradict her upbringing, such as her outrage over not having a voice in decision making: "I cannot take part because I'm a woman who can only have a voice through her father and husband when I have neither to my name." Leora's first person narrative doesn't jive with someone raised in an isolated community. For example, she describes her brother saying he is "all long bones and joints, like an artist's quick sketch of a body in motion." Most Old Order Mennonites have their own schools so Leora would hardly be uneducated, yet I doubt her schooling would include an overview of what an artist's "quick sketch of a body" would look like. On another note, I found the reason behind Leora's father's abandonment completely, absurdly implausible, although I won't reveal it to spoil anything for other readers. Although Leora repeatedly states that she is motivated by guilt for her sister's condition and a deep feeling of responsibility towards keeping her family safe, her actions belie these words throughout.

Despite the quick breakdown of society, which was predicted early on by Moses, little happens in this book. Most of the novel is spent worrying about what to do, making fruitless forays for supplies, and arguing amongst themselves. A significant time is devoted to the love triangle between Moses, Leora, and Jabil, which seems silly in light of the fact that they all question how long they will survive. When Leora and Moses spot a "gang" headed their way, they still don't flee but all have a Thanksgiving-like feast and then suddenly realize too late that they need to get the women and children out of the community, which is soon under attack. In short, the characters make dumb decisions that had me rolling my eyes instead of buying in to the fictional reality that they are trying to survive in a failing world. As I was reading, I couldn't help but think how members of the Old Order Mennonite community would feel about how they are portrayed in this book and imagine they would feel insulted to see themselves depicted as fickle characters who lack deep convictions or faith in times of crisis - a portrayal vastly different from the hundreds of years of steadfast beliefs they have displayed in reality.
Profile Image for Joleen.
2,114 reviews1,211 followers
January 24, 2018
At the same time as a small plane crashes at the site of a northern Montana old-order Mennonite village, all electricity and electronics drop off the grid, rendered useless. As Moses, the slightly injured pilot, is brought around by Leora Ebersole who was tending him, he's now conscious and realizes what happened. He explains at a community meeting that an Electromagnet Pulse (EMP) is responsible for the now useless electronics and nonexistent electricity. The community and possibly much of the hemisphere is essentially set back 200 years and will go on survival mode. He reveals the severity of this phenomenon. People used to fast food will quickly run out of provisions and seek communities like this who have food in abundance. People will loot, even kill for that which they no longer have, and need to survive.

With Englischers who were passing through now stuck in this community with no way of traveling on except by foot, they all make plans to work together to try to survive. Mennonites will want to welcome outsiders and share with those in need and will not protect themselves if threatened, but the non-Mennonites want to use weapons to patrol and protect the community.

Two very different lifestyles blend together, one of faith in God's provision, the other believing they must take situations in hand to make things happen on their own. Both learn from each other despite the anticipated strife. On the other hand, tribulations like this can cause some to rethink their faith as they question God's work in the current state of affairs. Questions like: Do they trust Him to protect and provide? Will they stand back and allow outsiders to hurt them or their loved ones? Who do they really trust?

While issues are wrestled with and relationships are blossoming, a fearsome crowd of those Moses calls "locusts that destroy and consume everything in their path" are on their way. Other communities were forced to leave as this gang of felons and plunderers forcefully commandeer everything. But the surprise is who is involved, and what's behind it all.

I recently read a book about a solar flare, the effect of which was essentially the same as the EMP. Food, medicine and survival being uppermost. It was good, but this was REALLY good. Realistic relationships and interactions, growing attraction between two characters, faith issues, and family obligations were all so well written. Near the "ending" was a surprise with a few people inside and outside the community. It was a cliff hanger, which I normally am peeved with, but I liked The Alliance so much I WILL be getting The Divide.
Profile Image for Bluerose's  Heart.
532 reviews27 followers
May 31, 2016
This book is so, so good!

I quickly grew tired of reading Amish/Mennonite fiction after only a few of them. I don't typically touch them anymore. The Alliance is unlike any I've ever read, though, and is definitely worth reading, whether you typically enjoy them or not.

Reading this book will probably scare you into learning survival skills, and make you think about a world that you might not have even imagined, if you're like me. Though parts of the story are slower moving, there's still plenty of parts that are heart-racing. I was quickly turning the pages through it all.

I loved the leading lady, Leora. She has a great deal packed on her shoulders, but she's brave, even though she's also terrified. I also adored the fact that she was written to wear glasses. During my second pregnancy, something changed with my eyes, and contacts are super painful now. I've fought it hard until recently, when I finally accepted that it's glasses for me. Probably because of that, but I loved the glasses on a leading lady. Leora isn't your typical leading lady, but really there's nothing "typical" about this book. It's unique and refreshing!

There IS romance within the book, and even a love triangle, but it wasn't overdone. I didn't roll my eyes, so it wasn't corny. I felt the whole book, including the romance portion, was very well written. (Well, except for the repeated use of "could care less". "COULDN'T care less", people! I don't understand how this makes it through in so many books.) ;)

My biggest complaint is the fact that the story ends with a major cliffhanger, and now I have to wait a whole year to find out what happens. It's highly unlikely I would have picked up the book had I known this fact, and I'm super annoyed that it wasn't made clear.

Just to note, there's references to Matthew 24:1-26 , believing that it is a description of the end of times. I believe those verses to actually be a description of the destruction of the temple that was to come, not the end of times. As long as you know I don't support that line of teaching, and you don't mind waiting a whole year for the ending, I wholeheartedly recommend The Alliance! I greatly enjoyed it.

*I was provided a review copy, in exchange for my honest opinion.
Profile Image for Anne Rightler.
1,728 reviews13 followers
March 10, 2016
The Alliance by Jolina Petersheim is not your typical book about the Plain people and the Englischers. Petersheim gives readers a glimpse of what might happen if the two had to become one to survive. Can the Mennonite community, devout pacifists with a strong belief in the sanctity of life be in accord with the Englischers who insist guns and resistance might be needed to protect their lifestyle and their lives? What will this alliance mean—have survival instincts ‘mixed black and white until…consciences are color-blind to anything but the indefinite shade of gray?’ Englischer pilot and military veteran, Moses Hughes’ plane has crashed into this Mennonite community. He seems to understand that what has happened is catastrophic and reasons that drastic disasters call for drastic measures to ensure the safety of all. It might just be 'time to change some of these old-fashioned rules’. Leora Ebersole senses her loss of control over her life and environment as she struggles to care for her younger brother and special needs sister. Jabil Snyder, a young leader in the community, is in love with Leora and senses there is too much chemistry happening with Leora and Moses. Who will win her heart? Can she even give her heart when she has a duty to care for her family? Secrets kept, secrets shared, affection and devotion given and rejected, family ties, community bonds, the author gives the reader much food for thought with this apocalyptic novel. The characters are marvelously evocative and her story is filled with strong prose. Thought provoking passages such as ‘she’s put her glasses back on, like a veil. I am wearing my own kind of veil. But I guess, in a way, we all are’. And 'Is this, then, what draws people to each other? Not the combination of perfect selves, but the mirrored fragments we see reflected?’ Suspense, romance, drama, twists and turns to the plot—The Alliance has it all. A compelling read, not to be missed.
Profile Image for Joneal Kirby.
3 reviews
February 28, 2016
I finished Jolina Petersheim's novel, The Alliance. What a gift God has given this author. I'm dizzy with glee because finding a new author at my old age is just pure delight! Storytelling is Jolina's gift. It's her writing strength and the blessing she shares with us her lucky readers. Through this book as well as her previous two, I've fallen in love with this author. Jolina crafts the story you HAVE to know what comes next. She crafts page-turners which keep you up all night. In The Alliance, she explores a sci-fi subject mingled in with faith questions. It's a different type story for her, definitely done well. Her two previous books, The Outcast and The Midwife were exceptional. Those two stories revolved around characters I hated to let go I had become so fond of them. Fortunately we will not have to let go of everyone from The Alliance as she says this is just the first of a series. I would have to insert a spoiler alert to name specific characters but I know you will be relieved when you come to the end of Petersheim's novel to know there is more to come. There are characters who will become favorites. As the story of Leora and the Amish community which is upended by an apocalyptic event unfolds, the unexpected keeps you ever guessing. This story has suspense and love and drama overridden with social and cultural issues. It seems almost like a screenplay. I could see it being adapted to film as I did imagine it as a movie as I read it. You'll read this and think about it quite a bit when you've finished. And you will be glad that Jolina is working on the rest of the story.
Profile Image for Maureen Timerman.
2,870 reviews474 followers
May 9, 2016
Wow! What a different type of Plain story, an old order Mennonite community is our setting in Ohio. Can you imagine seeing a small plane falling out of the sky and crashing, and the pilot is really not seriously injured.
At the same time the plane crashes everything else stops working, and he seems to have landed, or crashed where he is needed, in an Old Order Mennonite Community, in Ohio. Now why would he need to be here?
As you turn the pages of the book, all law and order has ceased, and people start coming for handouts, as you would expect, but gangs are on the horizon, and out for no good.
The compassion and love these people showed others, but they are Pacifists and who will be able to help them. Moses Hughes is the pilot, and Leora Ebersole is the other main character, and these two opposites seem to click. The community takes in others, and a few other non-mennonite along with Moses take on an alliance to help.
When things go from bad to worse, I loved Moses reference of why he was staying where he was, back to Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt, and who told he wasn’t that Moses, made me chuckle.
We rather end this story on a cliffhanger, and I don’t know who made it, and how they are going to survive, or what happens. Sure can’t wait for book two in this, I need to know!
I received this book through Tyndale House Publishers, and was not required to give a positive review.
Profile Image for Teresa Kander.
Author 1 book179 followers
March 8, 2016
I have read two other Mennonite fiction books by this author, but this one is incredibly different. This is an apocalyptic tale, where a cataclysmic event changes life as the characters had known it. The Mennonite community, and the Englischers who are stuck there when the incident occurs, have differing ideas about how to protect their supplies and their lives but are forced to form an uneasy alliance.

This story is captivating and emotionally charged. It leads the reader to wonder what you would do in a situation like this one. Would you stick to your faith and put your trust in God to get you through the disaster, or would you put your trust in other humans to keep you safe?

The main characters are Moses Hughes, an Englischer, and Leora Ebersole, a Mennonite. Their views clash on more than one occasion, even as they begin to have feelings for one another. There is also a love triangle which includes another Mennonite young man who has strong feelings for Leora.

The story ends with a cliffhanger, and I can hardly wait to find out what will happen in the next part of this adventure.

**I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.**
Profile Image for Christy.
686 reviews
May 30, 2016
I was disappointed in this read and it's main characters. I found the writing style very shallow and vague. I never got the whole picture of this story by the first person point of views of Leora and Moses. I was unable to distinguish between the Mennonites and the Englishers; they read so much the same. Leora seemed so removed from being Old Order Mennonite; she could have been anyone. Jabil's perspective would have been more interesting to me. I was stunned at the instantaneous attraction from what should have been a devote Mennonite woman to Moses. I was completely surprised also by the second chapter it was completely revealed what had caused the utter black-out in the community. As a reader I wanted to know this Mennonite community and it's many inhabitants and how this major event had effected their lives. As a reader I could only see a little of what was taking place and unfortunately Leora and Moses just couldn't carry this story for me.
Profile Image for Eva-Joy.
511 reviews39 followers
September 27, 2017
Actual rating: 1.5 stars

Dull, cliched, and forgettable. I rarely rate books one star, but this one deserved it. The .5 is for ever-so-tiny bits of possible brilliance that I occasionally glimpsed in the writing.
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