Monday, April 16, 2012
Amish Fiction is Branching Out - An Uncommon Grace by Serena Miller/5 Stars
This book explores the life and culture of the Swartzentruber Amish--an ultra-conservative sect that many readers, including myself, have never heard of. It's obvious that the Amish in general are very strict in their lifestyle in order to keep them separate from the Englisch, but the Swartzentruber take it to a whole different level. They don't ride in cars unless it's an emergency, there are no phones anywhere, there's no indoor plumbing, and their home appliances and farm equipment are primitive beyond belief. Also, their views and opinions on the Bible and a Christian life seem different, too, almost to the point of making me pity them. It seems as though their primary focus is on good works, and that they only get assurance of heaven if they've done enough and lived a good life. Oh, if they only knew the truth.
With this unusual cultural backdrop, it did not take me long to become engrossed in Serena's story. I loved Grace's subtle methods of serving Levi and his family without being asked. I longed for Levi to recognize his district's flawed teachings, as well as the ability to escape those who would sabotage his reputation. And I hoped with all my heart that these two could find a way to be more than just friends. Partially because of these two characters, An Uncommon Grace was a very intriguing story that was both entertaining and satisfying.
For those who are fans of Amish mysteries by author Mindy Starns Clark, I can heartily recommend that you give Serena's latest book a try. It has the perfect combination of mystery and Amish culture, and if you're not careful, you may just learn a thing or two (I speak from experience here). :o) Serena has now written two books that I have loved from start to finish--one historical and one Amish--and it's safe to say that she'll be an author I'll read more from in the future!
Summary of An Uncommon Grace:
Grace Connor, a military nurse formerly stationed in Afghanistan, hopes that moving to a farm in rural Ohio will help her recover from the ravages of war. Levi Troyer finds his pacifist beliefs challenged when he discovers his stepfather has been killed and his mother wounded by an unknown intruder. Levi and Grace are thrown together when she comes to his family's rescue and saves his mother's life. A deep attraction develops--even though a relationship between them is strictly forbidden.
Levi belongs to the most conservative and isolated of all Amish sects--the Swartzentruber Amish. Even before meeting Grace, Levi had begun to question some of their teachings. He has considered leaving, but knows he will be banned forever from contact with his younger siblings and widowed mother--who need him to survive. He is torn between his love for Grace and his responsibility to his family.
Grace considers leaving her beloved farm and reenlisting rather than continuing to live near the man she loves but cannot have. Levi must confront the Bann if he pursues Grace. And a murderer must be caught. When lifelong allegiances are tested, can love and justice prevail?
**Many thanks to the publisher for providing a copy for review.