Source: I won a copy from LibraryThing. The opinions expressed here are my own.
I am familiar with a lot of Amish fiction. You know the kind, all romance and sometimes mystery. There is almost always a happy ending. I am also familiar with books that talk about people leaving the Amish lifestyle for various reasons. My former daughter-in-laws grandmother was Amish until she was shunned. Living in Sarasota, Florida I see everything from Mennonite to all levels of Amish. Knowing all of this made this novel seem so dark. Unfortunately from people I know, I understand that there are Old Order Amish that go through situations like this all the time.
A lot of young Amish kids go through a Rumspringa, where they try out the Englisher world. This is done before they decide whether they want to join the church or not. Leah wasn’t that type of kid. At age 17 she loved God so much she wanted to know more about him. In her order she was only allowed to read the German Bible, which she had difficulty understanding. She also didn’t understand why her order had certain rules that were extremely strict compared to other orders. She learned very quickly that you didn’t voice those questions aloud. She also learned that you didn’t read an English Bible and you didn’t question what more God had for you. To do so in her order was considered being disobedient to her family and her bishop. The consequence of this was to be counseled. Unfortunately this wasn’t the type of counseling we might go through. The counselor could put her in a hospital and treat her with drugs and other things against her wishes. It didn’t matter if she was 18 or older. They would take it so far as to keep her prisoner until the counselor would arrive. Anyone trying to rescue her would be kept away. In Leah’s case her boyfriend Jacob stood by her side. Other members of the order stood guard in the barn and around the property to make sure there was no rescue attempt.
I could identify with Leah. Their belief system reminded me of a time in Catholic history when Bibles were chained to the pulpit and people were kept illiterate so they couldn’t read the Bible for themselves. They could only believe what they were told. When my mom became a Christian I was five years old. She had no one to guide her in her walk so she decided to err on the side of right. She got rid of all board games because they contained dice and since people used to shoot craps with dice then games with dice might be a sin. Dancing became a sin. The worst spanking I ever received was because my cousin and I were pretending to be ballerinas. Most TV shows were a sin. I had to wear dresses most of the time because to wear pants to church was a sin. You see where I am going with this. Sometimes rules and regulations can become more important than God’s word. I applauded Leah for wanting to have a personal relationship with God. This is a book I would recommend to everyone whether they like Amish fiction or not.