Photo Credit: Bethany House
I recently became a book reviewer for Bethany House Publishers, yay! A book lover receiving free books and reviewing them? Sign me up!! I couldn’t have done this before I had a blog, so God’s perfect timing is once again, well…PERFECT. In a few weeks I even get to preview the brand new Beverly Lewis book. She’s my FAVORITE author!! Squee!!
Every month they send me an email with a few different books to choose from. Sometimes it’s hard to choose just one! :> But when I got the last one, I thought I’d picked one, only to see the BL one have my choice made for me. Then a follow up email said I could choose 2 this month! I’m getting them both!
This is like joining a book-of-the-month club where I choose the book. I may need more bookshelves for these new books. but I prefer physical books I can hold on my hand to e-books, although they are an option.
Now…to the book: A Simple Change by Judith Miller
I’ve read some of her books before, but don’t really remember how well I liked them, so this was starting fresh. Also, this is the first time I’ve ever heard of the Amana Colonies. And that means I haven’t read her previous books on the topic, including the first in this series. They seem to have some similarities to Quakers.
The basic premise is, a young woman’s life is uprooted when her mother’s illness draws her parents back to their Middle Amana Colony for what may be her final days. They had previously left because they did not want to observe the practice of being separated for a year before they could be married. (I thought this part should have been explored a bit more. There wasn’t really much at all about this experience or how it affected their lives, leaving their families and everything they had known). Their daughter Jancy must choose between the life she’s always known, including teaching at an orphanage and a possible marriage, and an unknown new life if she follows her parents to Middle Amana, either temporarily or permanently.
I loved Jancy’s devotion to her parents and the way she sees that some things are more important than what we want for ourselves. She never wavers in this! She’s very loyal, trustworthy and upstanding. I also liked the mystery aspect of the story. Beverly Lewis does this a lot, and I think it is one of the things people love about her books. The mystery and intrigue really bring depth to the story, and the “outsiders” help give opportunities to teach us about the ways of the colonies. Mysteries, as long as they aren’t TOO stressful, always bring excitement to a story and give our brains a workout.
That said, some of the explaining of their rules and ways still seemed a bit clunky and over-explained. I feel like her writing style is similar to Wanda Brunstetter’s, which I’ve finally figured out is just not my personality style. A bit too stiff and overexplain-y for me, but still my second favorite Amish author, after Beverly Lewis, who writes in EXACTLY my style. I like books to read the way real people talk to each other, not as if we’re being taught something. It’s fiction, not non-fiction.
I was also disappointed that there wasn’t a Gospel message in the book, and nothing that helped people see the difference between a works-based religion as we see here, and a true, born again Christianity as the Bible teaches. This is a HUGE problem for me. How can I root for Jancy to stay in the colonies when no one reads or studies the Bible or shows any evidence of following Christ? They don’t even have Bibles in the colonies in a language the people can read. I expect, and should expect, a Christian novel to have a clear message about what it means to repent of our sins, follow Christ and live a Godly life!
A good storyline and interesting characters, although we needed to know more about the parent’s past. I enjoyed the book and would read others by her and about this religion, but sharing the gospel and dispelling confusion about what Christianity is, is too important to ignore. I care too much about people and their eternal lives to ignore it.
“Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:38