After my last post, a few people asked what kind of books make me happy. My answer? Books like this one. Let me explain why:
This book is the third of Goyer's "Big Sky" Amish novels about Marianna Sommer and her family. I posted my comments on first one, Beside Still Waters, in October. As I pointed out in that post, I do not read Amish novels as a general rule (okay, I never read them) but I got seriously hooked on these. The writing is excellent, the characters almost seem to leap off the page, I can just picture the setting, and the story is sweet but also compelling. I read this book in less than a day.
Marianna Sommer has returned to Indiana from West Kootenai, Montana, to help her brother and his longtime sweetheart as they start their new life and family together. Despite her best intentions, she is distracted by thoughts of her own upcoming wedding and her longing for the places and people she left behind in Montana. She wonders if she made the right choice. She also struggles with the harsh and unyielding way that the Amish community in Indiana reacts to her newfound beliefs about God and His love. All Marianna wants to do is share that love with the people she has known for her entire life, but they can't see past their traditions, disapproval, and resistance toward change.
As Marianna and those she loves sort through the tragedies and mistakes of the past in order to find God's will for the future, He gently reminds them that He has a plan and is working all things for good. This is a wonderful book about redemption, peace, spiritual growth . . . and romance. I enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys Amish fiction, Christian fiction, or even just good clean romance.
So why did this book make me happy? Believe me, it was more than just the ending. First of all, I liked it because I like the characters. After three books, I feel like I've gone along with Marianna for a real spiritual journey. I love this character. She isn't perfect, she has struggles, she questions her motivations and her decisions and sometimes even her faith, and I like that. I also appreciate the other characters and the way they come to life through the pages of this series. I like the honest, "real-life" way these people deal with questions of life and faith. I admit, I like the warm fuzzy love stuff. But my favorite moment in the book wasn't exactly warm and fuzzy; it was when one of the characters realized that God loved her and forgave her, that something that she had carried guilt over for years wasn't her punishment for her past, and that God had a wonderful plan for her future. That moment almost made me cry. And yet, moments like that are what really make me happy. Quite simply, this book delivers.
One other thing that made me happy and has nothing to do with the plot at all: When I opened the book the first thing that I saw was my best friend's husband's name in the acknowledgments. How fun is that? I love it that people I know are working toward the success of "happy" books like this one. So way to go, Aaron Linne. And cheers to his wife Ashley, my BFF. You people rock.