Psalm 27:1

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Beside Still Waters Book Review

SUMMARY:  Raised among the Amish of Indiana, 18-year-old Marianna Sommer plans to get baptized into the church, marry Aaron Zook, and set up life in the only community she has ever known.  But when her older brother chooses the world's path following his rumschpringe, and a younger sibling begins showing interest in Englisch ways, Marianna's parents move the family to Montana.
    Although she is also in her rumschpringe years and not obligated to move, Marianna makes the journey to dutifully help her mother who is expecting another child.  Surprisingly, from strangers on the cross-country train ride to the less rigid stance of the new Montana community, many Englisch influences awaken within Marianna - and even her father - the desire to pursue a deeper kind of joy and love for God.
     After an accident, Marianna tells her friend Ben a defining story about the Sommer family, and his response further illumines the active relationship God seeks with His followers.  In due time, she learns the move from Indiana was not about losing anything, but finding out who God really is.  Despite all the shake-ups, Marianna feels a sweet peace, like still waters, in her soul.

REVIEW:  This is a good but hard book. Marianna's desire to stay with her family as they move across the country to help her parents is one to be admired.  She leaves behind everything she knew including her fiance' and friends.  The hard part is the back story.  Marianna's parents lost two daughters in a tragic buggy accident the same day Marianna was born.  Her name is even a combination of the names of the two daughters.  Though it happened eighteen years earlier, this event still affects everyone in the Amish community and hangs over the family like a dark cloud.  Moving to Montana helps the family heal from this tragedy and find closure.
      There were a lot questions I thought were left unanswered.  Will Aaron and Marianna get married?  What happens to Ben and Marianna's friendship?  Are they allowed to let it develop since the community she is in is not as strict or will they be forbidden to go further in their relationship since Ben is an Englischer?  Does the friendship between Aaron and Naomi develop into something more since Marianna is so far away?  What happens to Levi?  Does he decide to join his family in Montana or will he continue to live with the Englisch in Indiana?  Will he ever heal from the deaths of his sisters?  If this book is part of a series, I hope these questions are answered in the next one.

This Advanced Reader Copy was provided by Litfuse Public Relations for review without compensation.

Tricia Goyer is an acclaimed and prolific writer, publishing hundred of articles in national magazines including Today's Christian Woman and Focus on the Family while authoring more than twenty fiction and nonfiction books combined.  Among those are 3:16 Teen Edition with Max Lucado and the American Christian Fiction Writers' Book of the Year Award winners Night Song and Dawn of a Thousand Nights.  She has also written books on marriage and parenting and contributed notes to the Women of Faith Study Bible
    Tricia and her husband John have four great kids and make their home in Arkansas with their dogs, Lilly and Jake.  In addition to writing, Tricia enjoys sharing Jesus' love through volunteering as a mentor for teenage moms in her community, ministering in the Czech Republic on regular missions trips and leading children's church every week with the rest of her family.

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