Beverly Lewis,
The Heritage of Lancaster County
#1: The Shunning

(Bethany House, 1997)

Beverly Lewis is not an author I expected to like, and I doubt I'm her target audience.

Despite living in Lancaster County for the past 15 years, I have failed to develop any real curiosity about the Amish, and I don't really understand why tourists flock here to see them. While I share many of their Anabaptist values (non-violence, strong community and service), they seem to me to be a culture like any other, hardworking and dedicated to their beliefs. In fact, living here has probably made me even less curious, after interacting with so many seemingly ordinary Amish folks.

But every once in a while, I get asked for good, Christian literature, and I'm stumped. I hardly want to direct readers to the Left Behind series or its ilk, and always in my periphery was Lewis. I finally had the opportunity to read one of her books, this one, and I absolutely loved it. Its gentle pace, and the sweet unfolding of Katie Lapp's story, charmed me from the first.

The Shunning, first of three in The Heritage of Lancaster County series tells the story of a young Amish woman on the brink of a marriage she's not sure is right. Unable to forget her first love, Dan, she's hesitant to give her heart to Bishop John, good man though he is. Her parents strive to understand, but believe it's time for Katie to just settle down. But Katie has never felt settled in her Amish community. She's always felt a little different. And now she's found something that makes her believe she just might be right.

Katie is a fun, spunky character who makes you really feel her struggle as she tries to fit the role of the proper Amish woman. Poor Bishop John is a sober, quiet man, and you can't help feeling a bit sorry for him as Katie speeds through his life like a train-wreck in progress. You'll really root for all these characters, and it's impossible not to sympathize with their plight.

Based loosely on the experience of her own grandparents, Lewis expertly weaves this tale of a family torn apart by hidden secrets.

I'm so glad this is a trilogy, because I can't wait to find out what happens next.

[ visit the author's website ]

book review by
Katie Knapp

30 October 2010

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