Monday, May 20, 2013

"The Memory Jar" Review

About the Book: Every year, 30–40 young Amish men descend on the cozy little town of West Kootenai, Montana, arriving in the spring to live there for six months and receive “resident” status for the hunting season in the fall. They arrive as bachelors, but go home with brides!

Sarah Shelter has lived in West Kootenai for the last ten years and wonders if she will ever fall in love. Since the tragic death of her best friend, she carries her memories in a jar along with the small items connected to them. For just as long, she’s also been carrying around her emotions instead of allowing them to penetrate deep into her heart.

Now she’s met a kind and gentle man who may be able to break down the wall. But can Sarah risk her heart to finally achieve her dreams?

Seven Brides for Seven Bachelors Series

About the Author: USA Today best-selling author Tricia Goyer is the author of 35 books, including the Seven Brides for Seven Bachelors series. She has written over 500 articles for national publications and blogs for high traffic sites like and Tricia and her husband John live in Little Rock, Arkansas, where John works for FamilyLife. They have six children. You can find out more about Tricia at

My Take:

During the first few chapters of this novel, I have to admit that I wasn’t very engaged with it. I was so saddened by the fact that Sarah had lost her best friend, and even though the location was West Kootenai, Montana (which is a favorite setting for me after reading Tricia’s “Big Sky” series), I wasn’t able to even connect with the setting very well. For some reason – and I can’t put my finger on why – the circumstances surrounding Sarah being lost in the mountains didn’t hold my attention.

As Sarah and Jathan’s relationship developed, however, I became much more involved in the story. Maybe it was because the couple sort of reminded me of my husband and me. Even though she was great a baking, Sarah wasn’t the best at "normal" Amish woman things such as sewing, and she sometimes felt as if she didn’t fit it because of that. I like to watch college football, and I don’t always enjoy going shopping and doing other girly-type things. Jathan had a secret love for baking, and my husband does, too! Although it’s actually not a secret in our circles – you should have some of his oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies sometime! And his Oreo pie….and brownies….OK, so, it’s all good!

Anyway, once their relationship started to develop and other things started happening in their lives, I became much more engaged with the novel and enjoyed it. I liked how Sarah and Jathan actually talked to each other over the course of their relationship, for the most part. The conflict in the story was based on each of them dealing with their pasts and from outside, concrete circumstances rather than misunderstandings or assumptions.

I thought that this novel dealt with the process of grief well. Sarah mourned the passing of her friend, and she struggled to come to terms with moving on with her life, which I thought was very realistic. But this portion of the novel was not written in a way that was too depressing, after the initial event of Patty losing her life. Sarah grew tremendously in this novel, and always there was a thread of hope. Sarah’s memory jar was a neat concept, too, and how it related to her friendship with Patty was heartwarming.

One of the reasons that I like to read Tricia’s Amish novels is because of the way that she approaches the Amish way of life. She doesn’t shy away from stating that you don’t have to be Amish to have salvation. I also love the interaction of both Amish and English in the West Kootenai setting.

I do have to say that I think the characters in this book sometimes relied too much on their feelings and their own interpretations of things to make decisions, etc., instead of relying wholly on the Bible. I know how crazy my feelings can be. I would much rather fully rely on scripture rather than any thoughts or dreams I had in my own head.

The Memory Jar is a good introduction to the Seven Brides for Seven Bachelors series, and I look forward to reading all of them!

I will give The Memory Jar … 3 ½ BookWorms.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Zondervan Publishers. 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."

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