Monday, September 12, 2011

The Healing by Wanda Brunstetter

Enter any Christian bookstore or the Christian fiction section of any other bookstore and you will certainly be treated to a variety of book covers depicting demure bonneted young ladies, members of the Plain people.  Whether centered around Amish or Mennonite families, set in the past or present, these novels make up a strong market in Christian fiction.  I actually listened to a webinar about this genre last spring, and as I had suspected, there is a wide range in writing quality.  Maybe because of that, I tend not to read Amish focused fiction.  It may also be because we live in a community with a strong Amish presence, I want accurate, factual information about them, not romanticized fiction.  I am curious that readers who in their daily lives cannot separate themselves from technology, sports, and Hollywood for even a few minutes would make Amish fiction such a success.  Maybe we do really want a simple life; we just don’t know how to achieve it.  Or maybe reading about their simplicity and strong values is just enough to assuage our conscious.
Even though I was disappointed in the last two Amish fiction titles I read, I decided to request an advanced reader’s copy of Wanda Brunstetter’s newest addition to her Brothers of Kentucky series.  Brunstetter is among the strongest writers in this genre so I was curious if her plot and characters would rise above the mediocre multitude.  The Healing begins with grief-stricken Samuel Fischer trying to adjust to life after his pregnant wife’s death due to a fall.  Unable to face daily life in the home they had built together, Samuel leaves behind parents and extended family in Pennsylvania to join his single brother Titus in Kentucky.  Samuel is able to find work there, but still struggles with his empty heart.  And he seems totally inept in dealing with his three young children.   Although I was not surprised by any developments in this story, I did enjoy it and would recommend the book.  I especially liked that the main character was male, and since this is a series, there are other strong male characters who will likely be the “lead” in future books.  I also liked that there was a presence of “English” neighbors in the book who were truly friends, not sources of worldly temptation or simple add-ons.  Bonnie Taylor is one of those friends and her side story is a strong one.   I also liked that Esther Beiler, the young Amish woman who takes care of Samuel’s children, is independent.  She is even living alone as her parents have moved closer to an ill son.  I know many of my Christian fiction reading friends have read many, many of Wanda Brunstetter’s books, and I believe I will continue to follow this series.
I received this title as an advanced reader’s copy from NetGalley.   The review reflects my own thoughts.

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