In an attempt to be fair to all genres, I have stepped out on a limb and tried something new.
To debut as an Amish Fiction reader, I have selected The Choice by Suzanne Woods Fisher. This book is the first title in the Lancaster County Series.
This book was published in 2010, so if you're a fan of Amish fiction you may already be familiar with it. Since I'm not usually drawn to this genre, it was new to me.
This is not a solicited review so you won't find any affiliate links here. I didn't plan to even include purchase links, just my honest thoughts. However, this book is currently listed as free in kindle format (as of 3/9/14) so I reconsidered. If you click the image it will take you to the raw (non-affiliate) amazon link. Maybe you can still snag it for free.
Here are my thoughts after reading The Choice:
Carrie is in love with the wild child Sol Riehl who is urging her to leave the church and her family to follow him as he pursues his dream of being a baseball star.
Having not yet been baptized into the church, Carrie is free to decide her future despite what it may cost her.
The choice is hers and it is no small decision.
When the choice is made, it seems that life moves her in another direction, but is it life or is it God's mighty hand steering her toward what's best?
The book covers life in a Pennsylvania Dutch Amish community for better and for worse.
Honestly, I do not know much about Amish life. I knew a women in a former church who grew up Mennonite. She said that violence was common and child abuse prevalent. I guess the experiences she shared with me shaped my opinion more than I realized.
Though I understand now that there are differences between the Amish and Mennonite cultures, I have intertwined them in my mind over the years.
The reason I mention this is that I have had a problem with Amish fiction invading the Christian market. I worried that only a purity, simplicity and humility would be presented in these books.
I was actually pleased that one character in The Choice (Carrie's step mother) was portrayed as violent in her form of discipline, disrespectful as a wife and generally unkind. She was honestly what I imagine Amish to be.
I'm not trying to be judgemental or offensive, but I do want to be honest in my perspective when I began reading this book. Perspectives can change.
Now, the step mom is not presented as the norm in the community, but her presence in the story dealt with my anxiety with this genre. It also exposed me to the reality that there are good and bad among all groups and peoples, Amish included. I respect this, and the contrast between that cranky character and others helped me to see the good among the Amish way of life better.
What does come across very well in the story is that relationship with God is personal. Everyone has the ability to choose their behavior, their response and their faith.
Even better, this story addressed how God can direct our steps and lead us to something better than we could or would imagine.
Of course, choosing Him is the best choice we can ever make.
The story has romance, a hint of mystery, and believable emotion.
This is everything I look for in a story.
The Choice is well written, entertaining and a pleasure to read.