Book Review (and a Giveaway!): The Amish Wanderer by Laura V. Hilton

February 17, 2017 Amish, Christian, giveaway, Laura V. Hilton, romance 13


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about the book

Desperate for a Ticket Out
Bethany Weiss is ready to leave town. Tongues haven’t stopped clacking in Jamesport, MO, since her daed, the bishop, was admitted to a mental hospital after hurting their small Amish community. But her sharpest wounds Bethany hides from prying eyes, quietly biding her time until she can take a chance at a new life away from Jamesport and away from God.

Searching for a Home
Silas Beiler was kicked out of his own family’s home. Dogged by a rough childhood and a family who blames him for each new disaster, he begins hitchhiking across the country, sleeping in barns where he can, working for food when possible; headed for Pennsylvania, in the hope of some stability.

A Memory of Lemonade
When Bethany spies a man asleep in the hayloft, she first fears the return of an unwelcome suitor. But when it is Silas who turns and speaks, the memories flood back: a happy summer six years ago full of lemonade, long walks, and budding courtship. Now, however, those months of bliss seem naive and idyllic. Will their old love overcome new pain? Or will hurt and rejection continue to haunt their path?

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GENRE: Inspirational Amish Romance
PUBLISHER: Whitaker House
RELEASE DATE: February 14, 2017
PAGES: 240

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“He has you right in the palm of His hand … And His heart is broken because of how you were treated…”

One thing I love about Laura V. Hilton’s Amish fiction is that it deals with the messiness of life, with flawed people, and with the abuses that can easily come when religion is given more power than Jesus in someone’s heart. The Amish Wanderer is a great example of all three. No Amish utopias here. Instead, these are characters with tough-to-read backstories who struggle with doubt and temptation and fear.

Silas is such a fantastic hero. He’s got some mystery to him, secrets that are revealed little by little as the story unfolds. He doesn’t always get it right but he’s got a tender heart, a winsome humor, and a gentle strength – which is exactly what Bethany needs.  Despite the fact that he’s never had a consistent role model in his own family of what it means to be a godly man, a man who treats women with respect, he acts with maturity and sincerity … and he knows when it’s time to hit his knees in prayer.

For her own part, Bethany seems pretty immature and her reactions to Silas especially (the squealing, etc.) get a little tiresome, but I’m also twice her age and maybe I just don’t have the patience for that anymore lol. Bethany’s story, though. It’s gut-wrenching. It’s painful to read at times, but it’s covered in grace and handled with respect for women who have suffered the same trauma.

Bottom Line: Gritty but full of grace, The Amish Wanderer reminds us of God’s steadfast love for us even when we feel He is no longer listening. Compelling characters and a setting familiar to Hilton’s fans add to the story’s appeal, and while it does address abuse with frankness it is also quick to point to God’s mercy. While not part of an official series, it takes place following the events of The Amish Firefighter and readers may find it best to read that book first. The romance between Silas and Bethany is sweet and peppered with some fan-inducing kisses, but it’s their friendship that is the sweetest. And sweetest of all is the reminder that no matter how far from Home we wander, nothing can ever separate us from Jesus’ love.

(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the publisher. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)

My Rating: 3.5 stars / Good book!

KissingBook Level: 3 / May forget to breathe on occasion

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I didn’t intentionally set out to write an Amish story loosely based on a true story. If fact, when people asked me if I would write my maternal grandparents’ story, I told them no.

But when time came to write Bethany’s story, all I knew was a short paragraph blurb about it. Bethany and her once-upon-a-time boyfriend Silas who left that particular Amish district and her before their relationship became serious. I didn’t know their backstories, really, and had no idea how the story would proceed. And since I don’t plot, I spend a lot of time praying about the story, because really, I want to write what He says to write. He knows who He wants it to reach.

So I sat down to pray about it. And God gave me a verse. Which is unusual at the beginning of the story. Usually, for me, it’s at the middle when God reveals His theme for the book. But this time, it was at the beginning. The verse is:

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 (KJV)

And the verses caused more prayer. What am I supposed to do with it?

I was driving to Melbourne (Arkansas, not Australia) to pay property taxes and get my vehicle tags renewed, listening to the radio as we (my three daughters and I) drove down Larkin Road (that’s not the real name, just what everyone calls it—we have a lot of those around here: Day Road, Moko Road, etc—because there are ghost towns on these roads so they are called by the name of the ghost town). A song came on the radio and I don’t remember the name of it, or even who the singer was, but when I arrived in Melbourne, I had the opening line to my story.

The sky is falling and I’m searching for somewhere to hide.

I’m sure the people at the county clerk’s office might have been a little concerned about the state of my mental health when they saw the words scribbled at the top of my bill. I did get a strange look. I didn’t offer an explanation. And they didn’t ask.

When I got home, I started writing and paying close attention to Bethany’s mental clues (and Silas’s) to figure out what their stories were. And how they tied into the verse God had given me.

And then, without even realizing it until it hit, I knew whose story I was writing.

My grandmother’s. My grandfather’s.

Except they are different. My grandmother wasn’t date raped. It was a member of her own family. And she wasn’t in love with my grandfather. She just discovered he was leaving the Amish and she wanted—needed—to escape.

Neither were Christians at the time. My grandfather was saved on his death bed. My grandmother’s youngest child was a teenager when she was saved. My mother, her sister, and all their girlfriends went to a tent meeting for a United Brethren Church and my grandmother attended one of the meetings with her daughters and was saved as a result. And their testimonies ultimately led to the salvation of my uncle and my grandfather.

Both of my grandparents had a lot of issues to work through as to why God allowed the bad things in their lives to happen. That they eventually came to Christ is a miracle but I’m glad they did, as I was raised in a Christian home.

Why does God allow bad things to happen to people? The short, pat answer is: because sin entered the world. Yes, God could stop them. But what if He uses the bad thing to refine a person’s faith, to draw them closer to Him as a result?

How a person reacts to the bad things directly ties in to how they affect them. In my story, Silas chose to trust God even though he feared for his life. No, he didn’t like what had happened, but even though he didn’t see how, he trusted God was working behind the scenes to bring Silas to where he needed to be, spiritually and physically. On the other hand, Bethany believed God had rejected her. Pushed her away and didn’t care about her. If He didn’t care for her, why should she care about Him? So she went into a stand-off with God.

The lessons ultimately learned, for both my grandparents and my characters, brought them to their knees before the living and holy God who was, and is, and is to come. And I trust God will use this story to help a reader out there who might be questioning something terrible that happened in their life.

You might not see how now and may not know why until eternity, but God has this. Keep praying. Keep trusting. Keep believing.

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 (KJV)

about the author

Amish fiction lovers responded positively and immediately to Laura V. Hilton’s debut novel, Patchwork Dreams, when she burst on the scene in 2009 with her unique series, The Amish of Seymour, set in the tiny town of Seymour, in Webster County, Missouri. Fans of the genre immediately recognized Hilton’s insider knowledge, not only of the Webster County community, but Amish culture in general. Her natural speech and writing patterns, she says, are uniquely “Amish,” acquired from her Amish maternal grandparents. The Amish of Seymour, includes Patchwork Dreams, A Harvest of Hearts, and Promised to Another. Her second series, The Amish of Webster County, is comprised of Healing Love, Surrendered Love, and Awakened Love. A stand-alone title, A White Christmas in Webster County, was released in September 2014. The Amish of Jamesport includes The Snow Globe, The Postcard and The Birdhouse. In spring 2016 she released The Amish Firefighter with the setting in Jamesport, MO, the same as for The Amish Wanderer.

Laura is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and a professional book reviewer. Laura and her husband, Steve, have five children, whom Laura homeschools. The family makes their home in Horseshoe Bend, Arkansas.

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To celebrate her tour, Laura is giving away  Amish Wanderer, Patchwork Dreams (Amish of Seymour #1), Snow Globe (Amish of Jamesport #1), a 10 x 17” canvas banner: “Do justly, love mercy, walk humbly” (Micah 6:8), and
Abba Scripture Candle (3” natural, clean-burning wax, scented) – “With God All Things Are Possible”! Enter via the PromoSimple form below. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!

Click here to view this promotion.

Follow along with the Celebrate Lit blog tour for more chances to win!

 

Carrie

13 Responses to “Book Review (and a Giveaway!): The Amish Wanderer by Laura V. Hilton”

  1. Kay Garrett

    Sounds like an amazing read and one I’d love to get my hands on. We have been to Jamesport and love the town and area. Fun to read a book where it’s mentioned. 🙂 Thanks for this great chance!

  2. Patty

    I know Laura has been riding for a while, but I don’t think I’ve ever read any of her books. Thanks for taking place in the blog tour and giveaway !

  3. Dianne Casey

    I really enjoy reading Amish fiction. I like learning about the Amish way of life and their traditions and culture.

  4. Marilyn

    I love reading books about the Amish. Thanks for the giveaway.
    Marilyn

  5. Trixi

    Thank you for participating in the blog hop Carrie & the giveaway chance! I have a few of Laura’s books & enjoy them, and this one looks good too! 🙂

  6. kim tompkins

    Laura Hilton is a fantastic author. This series is about one of my favorite places in MO. Just finished The Amish Firefighter and as always enjoyed it!