Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Book Review: The Bridge of Peace by Cindy Woodsmall/4.5 Stars
Love alone isn’t enough to overcome the obstacles between a man and a woman.
Lena Kauffman is a young Old Order Amish schoolteacher who has dealt all her life with attention raised by a noticeable birthmark on her cheek. Having learned to move past the stares and whispers, Lena channels her zest for living into her love of teaching. But tensions mount as she is challenged to work with a rebellious young man and deal with several crises at the schoolhouse that threaten her other students. Her lack of submission and the use of ideas that don’t line up with the Old Ways strengthen the school board’s case as they begin to believe that Lena is behind all the trouble.
One member of the school board, Grey Graber, feels trapped by his own stifling circumstances. His wife Elsie has shut him out of her life, and he doesn’t know how long he can continue to live as if nothing is wrong. As the two finally come to a place of working toward a better marriage, tragedy befalls their family.
Lena and Grey have been life-long friends but their relationship begins to crumble amidst unsettling deceptions, propelling each of them to finally face their own secrets. Can they both find a way past their losses and discover the strength to build a new bridge?
There are a handful of authors that are my true favorites. Whenever they release a new book, I'm literally beside myself until I can get my hands on it. Such is the case with anything by Cindy Woodsmall. I discovered her books after she had written her first series called Sisters of the Quilt. I devoured those books in no time flat, and then, began the patient wait for her next series book, The Hope of Refuge. Since that book, I have read every single book she's written, and now, I can hardly stand the wait between each release!
The Bridge of Peace was a little different from some of Cindy's previous books. All of her books have a thread of emotional drama running through them, but this one seemed to be even more dramatic. Deborah was a returning character from book one who was still lamenting the departure of Mahlon. Frankly, I wasn't a fan of Mahlon in the first book, and I was thankful much of this story didn't dwell on him. Deborah also had the added worry of making a success of the new bakery she set up with Ada, Mahlon's mother. That alone took some skill, right there. How many of us could work with the woman we thought was going to be our future mother-in-law without maligning her son and his adventurous ways? Tough stuff, for sure.
There were a couple of new characters introduced, which of course, brought some drama of their own. Gray was a local man married to Elsie, and their marriage was awful. I mean, *way* awful. Separate bedrooms, stilted conversation, but with one bright spot...their son, Ivan. Ivan was such a sweet child, and his brief appearances always brought a smile to my face. He was born with part of his arm missing, but he did not let that stop him from being a typical, rambunctious 5-year-old.
Another new character was Lena, the local schoolteacher, and I confess that I liked her more than I expected. She was a very opinionated, passionate individual who cared so much for her students, but suffered a quiet pain because of a facial birthmark. Her self-worth was so tied in with her birthmark that she almost didn't recognize when love came her way.
Between Ivan's handicap and Lena's birthmark, the biggest lesson I learned from this book was that we should never judge someone by their outward appearance. Our thoughts and words toward those people can, at times, be so cruel. Instead, we should love them for who they are, and realize that they were fearfully and wonderfully made by the Creator of all mankind.
Cindy's books are some of the best that Amish fiction has to offer, and I cannot recommend her highly enough. There is always something in her stories that has me coming back for more, and I've been known to burn the midnight oil to finish one. :o) While The Bridge of Peace was not my favorite of all her novels, it was still a very good read, and necessary to continue the series. My rating is 4.5 Stars.
Sass? Yes...Lena :o)
**Many thanks to Waterbrook for providing a copy for review.
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