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Thursday, July 07, 2011

Amish Novel Refreshingly Clean, Quiet

(Image from Indiebound)

On a peaceful summer night in Indiana, an Amish father falls asleep while driving his family home in their buggy, causing a freak accident that kills his two young daughters and sends his pregnant wife into premature labor. Nineteen years later, the tragedy still looms over the Sommers family, casting a dark shadow of grief over them all. No one feels the weight of the long-ago accident more than Marianna, who has spent her life trying - and failing - to be exceptional enough to replace her two dead sisters.

Just as Marianna's beginning to find her own way, her father announces his intention to move the family from the close-knit Indiana community they've always known to the wilds of Montana. Being the perfect daughter means never arguing, never questioning, but Marianna's horrified at the thought of leaving. What will happen to her out in the Englisch world? Can she hold onto her faith or will she be lured away from God, just like her older brother? Everything she wants, including a future with handsome Aaron Zook, is in Indiana. Torn between obeying her father and following her heart, Marianna must make one of the most important decisions of her life.

Her choice will change everything.

Beside Still Waters, the first book in an inspirational new series by Tricia Goyer, is a contemporary novel with a soft, old-fashioned feel to it. Which doesn't mean it dodges "real" issues or darts away from truth. In fact, I think it portrays the Amish in an honest way, showing that however homogenous they may seem, each is an individual with his/her own thoughts, emotions and struggles. Because of this, Marianna becomes a character who's easy to identify and empathize with, even though she comes from a world vastly different from most of our own. The story does become predictable and the poor editing gets annoying, but all in all, I enjoyed this one. Seriously, reading Beside Still Waters felt like sticking my feet into an ice cold stream on a scorching summer day - clean, cool, and refreshing. Not the most exciting thing, maybe, but a pleasurable diversion nonetheless.

(Readalikes: Reminds me of other Amish novels, particularly those by Beverly Lewis)

Grade: C

If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG for mild sexual innuendo

To the FTC, with love: I received a finished copy of Beside Still Waters from the generous folks at MotherTalk Book Reviews, for whom this review was written. The official Mother Talk disclosure statement is as follows: "I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of the Beside Still Waters campaign and received a copy of the book and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate."


  1. I have a friend who can't get enough of books about the Amish. I'll have to recommend this to her. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  2. I haven't read this book yet, but have seen it around and was wondering about it. Amish fiction is my 'guilty pleasure' and have been reading it ever since my mother-in-law turned me on to it 11 years ago!

    Bonnie @ HandsAndHome

  3. Julie - Definitely. It's not the best Amish novel I've ever read, but it's far from the worst!

    Bonnie - LOL! That's not a very GUILTY guilty pleasure.


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