Bethany House Publishers (October 1, 2007)
Lewis has been a long time favorite of mine and the first author of Amish fiction I ever read. I think I got into her and Amish fiction in general because I was a Little House On the Prairie fan and then later found Janette Oke and Lewis combines the rich storytelling style of LHOP stories with the deep faith foundation of Okeâ€™s inspirational romance. This new series of hers still feeds my taste for that prairie type life but she also does such an amazing job at juxtaposing the simple, some might even say olden days lifestyle of the Amish with the encroachment of modern American society on nearly everything it touches. Her Amish families give a very clear picture of those who are IN the world but not OF it. Though I donâ€™t believe we all need to go to that extreme to follow scriptural admonitions not to become caught up in secular pursuits and desires above our faith and relationship with the Lord I do think that most of us could certainly benefit from simplifying our own surroundings and lifestyles.
As for Nellie and her family in this recent series, as usual Lewis provides a new community for readers to join and become involved with at least for the duration of the series. In book one, we meet Nellie and the fisher family a few months following the death of the youngest daughter, Suzy. It was her rumschpringe and she was chasing after the English life not like most Amish teens because it is forbidden and the vices entice them but because she had fallen in love with a young Mennonite and found a relationship with the Lord that was not only discouraged but forbidden by the Old Order rules of her Amish community. These books follow the development and establishing of a New Order church and acceptance by the Old Order leadership of both Beachy (those who most fully embrace the English lifestyle without leaving the Amish church) and the New Order members as still being a full part of their community rather than invoking the dreaded shun used for years in the Old Order communities as an attempt to draw wandering members back to the fold. We also meet Caleb Yoder, a young man near Nellieâ€™s age. The two have been considering courting though neither one knows for sure the other feels the same way. However Calebâ€™s father takes a hard line against any sort of change in the community rules or their religious practices so as the split of the New Order and Beachy families begins to occur, he also invokes his own shun of anyone not still committed to the Old Order wholeheartedly. As a result of Suzyâ€™s death and the rumors making their way amongst the Amish grapevine, her family becomes guilty by association regardless of their true loyalties and David Yoder forces his family to cut all ties with the Fishers even when Nellie chooses not to leave the church even if it seems the rest of her family will. Will Nellie and Calebâ€™s fates ultimately intertwine as they hoped for many months or will Caleb be forced into an unhappy union with someone his father approves of in order to save his entitlement to the family dairy farm? Read Lewisâ€™ novel to discover the rest of the story. (ISBN#9780764203107, 352pp, $13.99)