This book is one I received from Baker Publishing Group as a review copy. It is written by Beverly Lewis and is the first in a series of three novels (The Rose Trilogy) from Bethany House publishers.
I have only read one other book by Beverly Lewis (“The Shunning”), and it was so long ago that I don’t remember much about it.
This story is about two Amish sisters living in Pennsylvania. The younger, Rose Ann, has been baptized into the Amish faith and is currently dealing with courtship along with the daily care of her handicapped mother. The older sister, Hannah (‘Hen’ for short), left her Amish faith five years earlier to marry a non-Amish (English) man and is currently living in the ‘modern’ world.
Rose Ann’s best friend is the adopted son of the Amish bishop, Nick, who has not embraced the Amish ways. She also has somewhat of a courtship with another Amish boy, Silas, and he is the one with whom she can envision a future. Rose Ann seems compassionate and caring, and she is totally devoted to her faith.
Hen is married to Brandon, and is living in the modern world with him and her daughter, Mattie Sue. However, recently she feels conflicted with the way Mattie Sue is being raised in the modern world versus the way she was raised in the Amish world. She has a desire to return to her Amish roots, but she is not able to convince her husband to become Amish.
To me, this book was bewildering. Maybe I am just not used to reading Amish books, but there were so many characters involved (especially minor characters who were mentioned once and then you were expected to remember who they were ten chapters later) and so many Amish words that I didn’t know that it made me dizzy at times. Also, the character of Hen frustrated me. She chose to leave the Amish way of life to marry someone else, but now five years later she wants to go back and wants her husband to convert to the Amish faith. She says that she wants this so that her daughter can be raised in a moral way. So, the only way to instill values and morals in your child is to be Amish? And she wonders why her husband is confused? I was.
Also, this book did not endear itself to me early on because of a casual wondering from Rose Ann. At one point she is thinking about her sister and her sister’s child, and the text says, “She wondered whether Hen and Brandon would have more children, or if Mattie would remain an only child, like Nick had once been. Rose could not imagine being so alone…nor would she ever wish it on anyone.” Well, as an only child (and the parent of an only child, currently), this statement bothered me to no end. Alone? Am I so alone? I have loving parents; an amazing husband; a precious daughter; wonderful in-laws; many caring aunts, uncles, and cousins; a fantastic church family; and more friends than I ever thought possible. Is that “so alone?” No. It is not. Okay…rant over.
I understand that this book is the first in a series of three, but none of the storylines were wrapped up at all. Almost every question was left hanging. With trilogies, there needs to be some carryover from one book to the next, of course, but this one just stopped abruptly.
I guess part of the reason I didn’t really enjoy this book is that I really don’t understand the Amish faith. From the book, it seems as if the Amish believe that you do not have God’s salvation unless you have been baptized into the Amish faith. Well, I have not been baptized into the Amish faith, but I do have God’s salvation through Christ. I guess if I read the other books in this series, I will need to just enjoy the story rather than analyze the theology behind the story!
Even though this book had some frustrating parts for me, the story was still pretty good and fairly well written. If I had more knowledge of the Amish ways, I think I would have enjoyed this book more. If you are a fan of Amish fiction, you will enjoy this book.
As far as “Bonnet Books” go, it was not that bad! Visit this link for more information.
I will give “The Thorn” by Beverly Lewis…2 ½ Book Worms.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House Publishing. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."