Thursday, March 27, 2014

Rumspringa's Hope by Beth Shriver

Before anything else, I must say that the release date of this is set for May 6th.  I should probably wait to post my review, but honestly, I'd rather review it while it's fresh in my mind and I couldn't wait that long to pick it up and read it.

This book is the first in a series of three written by Beth.  The series takes us through the lives of three Amish women who must overcome obstacles and struggle with their faith and beliefs.

Although promised to the widowed neighbor Zeb, Emma is considering leaving her Amish community to watch over her younger brother Mark when he leaves for Philadelphia to explore the outside world during his Rumspringa.
 
There, she reconnects with her former beau Caleb, who protects the Amish teens, introducing them to his life evangelizing and helping the homeless. Unbeknownst to Emma, Caleb is glad for the opportunity to spend time with her and hopes to win her back.
 
Struck by the power of evangelism and outreach, Emma begins to feel a draw to Caleb's way of life. When she doesn’t return home when she promised, Zeb goes to the city to find her, forcing Emma to choose in which of their two worlds she really belongs.(taken from Amazon descriptions)

The copy that I received to review is an advanced copy, so some things may be changed before final publication.  Please keep that in mind while reading my review.

I feel that the Amish community and lifestyle was portrayed quite well.  It shows their beliefs as well as daily schedules.  We get to see how strongly their religion affects their lives.  Rumspringa is probably the one thing that most people know about the Amish.  It's the time when young adults are allowed out into the world to get a taste of it.  Those who choose to go often go because they are curious and end up returning to the Amish faith.  That isn't always the case.  Shriver takes a serious look at the reasons that youngsters choose to take part in Rumspringa, how it affects those left behind, and the long-term changes that can be made in everyone's lives because of it.

As a main character, Emma is slightly fascinating.  I say this because she's put in a position that many women are. She has two suitors and she doesn't know which to choose.  There's Caleb, who has turned his back on the Amish way of life but lives his life for the service of others.  There's Zeb, who is strictly Amish, but also controlling and has nefarious plans.  More importantly, each man offers Emma a different way of life  She can choose the life she's always known or a life of evangelism.  Both have a strong pull.  It's a nearly impossible decision to make and it was a great character study watching her struggle constantly with it.  There were times that she behaved in an odd manner and I wish I'd have been given insight into what she was thinking.

Though it seems the story is centered around Emma's love life and Rumspringa,there's so much more to it.  Caleb and Zeb have histories, as well as current plans, that add a great subplot.  The character of Monique adds another intriguing side.  I have to admit, where Monique is concerned,I felt quite unfulfilled.  I don't feel like any of her character issues were resolved and I was left sort of hanging.  Since she isn't really a main character, I can be forgiving, although I really would have liked to have seen her fleshed out more at the end.  

For those of you who enjoy Amish romance, I can truly say that Shriver is the most dramatic that I've read.  It's difficult to pull yourself back from Emma's life and into your own.  It's an entertaining and fascinating read that will give you plenty to think about.

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