The Amish are known for their large families and Elizabeth Bontragers family was no exception. She was the oldest of nine children! Her mother had trouble managing her supersize family so Elizabeth does the lions share of caring for the little ones and doing the housework, and thats after returning home from a full days work! She loves her family deeply and strongly desires to honor her parents but at the age of 20, feels she is missing the chance to have a life and family of her own. An English pen pal she met opens the door of opportunity by asking her leave her home in Goshen, Indiana and come live with her in Paradise, Pennsylvania.
Shes never had a rumspringa. Her wish is not to go wild as some Amish youth do during their rumspringa, but to truly seek what God would have her do, not what the church tells her to do. Her question is not to leave the Amish church; her roots run deep. Her confusion comes as to whether she would be dishonoring her parents by leaving home to start a life of her own.
After she embarks on the bus to Paradise, she meets a handsome Amish man named Saul Miller. Little did she know he would become her boss when she gets a job working in his familys store.
Elizabeth has many new experiences in the English world. I knew the Amish lived very simple lives without modern conveniences, but I never thought about the confusion and surprises they might have if they were exposed to them. Seeing the modern world through her eyes for the first time gave me a new perspective. While Elizabeth holds fast to the foundation of her Amish beliefs, she also embraces the new experiences her adventure offers. Her common sense and experience in caring for her family enables her to help several people in emergency situations.
I loved her innocence and integrity. Her love for her family, and her feeling of responsibility beckons her to go home, but her love for her new life and Saul make her want to stay. What should she do? She must make a choice.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and anxiously await book 2 of which there is an excerpt is included. I love recipes and was delighted to see some of the recipes from the story are shared. A wonderful book!
I received this book free from the Abingdon Press. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own
In Barbara Cameron's new series, Amish Roads, we meet three young women during a coming-of-age time in their lives called rumschpringe, a time which becomes one of resistance and contemplation of staying - or leaving - the Amish community.
Book one's title, A Road Unknown, is descriptive of what Elizabeth faces as she leaves her home and community to room with her Englisch friend, Paula. While I have no idea what the responsibility of taking care of several younger siblings would feel like, a lot of us can surely identify with Elizabeth's frustration, that feeling of wanting to be independent, understand what God is calling her to, and freely use the talents and abilities He has given her. Barbara knows how to tell a sweet, entertaining story and I've always enjoyed her easily-flowing writing style.
Saul is such a likeable character, a young man who enjoyed working in the Amish craft store his father started. Saul cared about his parents, and he cared about his community - always searching for special products or crafts and helping to find a market for them. I enjoyed seeing the growing attraction, friendship and trust between Saul and Elizabeth.
The friendship between Elizabeth and the Englisch Paula is another delightful theme. "Sometimes family was made of those you were connected to through birth and sometimes, Elizabeth thought, it was made of people like Paula." Having a day off was a rarity to Elizabeth, and she hardly knew what to do with herself. Although Paula's apartment survived, the results are hilarious! Barbara did a great job at blending the Amish and Englisch worlds, and I found the honesty of Elizabeth's character refreshing - her feelings of being tired and wanting to escape responsibility of helping with younger siblings.
I loved how the symbolism of a sparrow was woven throughout the story, reminding Elizabeth about God's provision and the comfort that gave her . . . for "If He cared about little creatures like a sparrow, she felt He'd provide for her, too. Parents did it for their children and He was, after all, her Father." I couldn't help but think of the words of the beautiful hymn, His eyes are on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
Just as Elizabeth faced the struggles of growing up, her parents needed to learn to let go and allow her to find her own way - and this is something that all parents eventually have to deal with.
I would describe A Road Unknown as a cozy, comfortable read - not a lot of action or adventure - but one that I enjoyed very much. The ending felt abrupt, but I hope to see more of Saul and Elizabeth in the next book, Crossroads, which comes out in August 2014. Recommended to fans of Amish fiction.
Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Elizabeth is the oldest child in a large Amish family. She's tired of constantly helping to care for younger children and wants to lead her own life. Even though she has a job she loves in a local fabric shop, she turns her wages over to her parents to help with the family's finances. When Elizabeth met a young vacationing "English" woman in their Ohio town one summer, she began corresponding with her, and shared her frustrations. Paula, a nursing student, invited Elizabeth to come and share her apartment in Paradise, PA, and Elizabeth impulsively accepted the invitation and boarded the bus for this unknown road. On the bus, she met a young Amishman, Saul, who was returning home after visiting friends. The agree to meet again in Paradise for a hamburger.
In Pennsylvania, Elizabeth struggles with her decision - while she doesn't want to return to her former life, she isn't about living a wild rumspringa either. The new people in her life, English and Amish, help her to realize what God wants in her life.
I enjoyed this story. Elizabeth, Paula, Saul and many others were people I'd enjoy knowing. The author did a good job of making all her characters be "real people" without over-romanticizing the Amish lifestyle. I like the fact that the book wasn't just another "Amish romance" but actually covered the topic of making decisions while at crossroads in life.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my fair and honest review.
Barbara Cameron in her new book, "A Road Unknown" Book One in the Amish Road series published by Abingdon Press takes us into the life of Elizabeth Bontrager.
From the back cover: Elizabeth is at a crossroads.
She's been given the chance to experience life outside of her community, away from the responsibility to care for her eight younger siblings, but Elizabeth Bontrager can't decide which road to take. Goshen has its charms and pressures, but Paradise, Pennsylvania, sounds . . . well, like paradise. And it's also home to her Englisch friend, Paula. Decision made. Elizabeth is Paradise bound.
But will the small town live up to its name? When Elizabeth meets Paula's friend, Bruce, she quickly learns he wants more than a friendship. And the same might be true of Saul Miller, her new boss at the country story that sells Amish products to the Englisch community. As the two compete for her attention, Elizabeth is surprised to realize she misses her family and becomes even more uncertain about where she belongs. She has a choice to make: return home or embrace this new life and possibly a new love?
What would you do? If you lived in the land of Goshen, or plenty, all your life then had the opportunity to go live in Paradise would you go home to Goshen where your parents were or stay in Paradise where your friends and new life are? That is the problem that Elizabeth is facing. And she is meeting all kinds of adventures in her new life especially with two men who want a romance with her. I think we have all faced a situation where we don't know which way to go, back to the life we lived or ahead to the new life we are trying to make. Ms. Cameron, in Elizabeth, has given us a character that as she grows and comes to understand just what she is doing and why we can identify with and root for to make the right decisions. All of the characters are interesting and we come to care for all of them. You wish they really existed outside of these pages so that we could go over to their homes and visit. This book is just a lot of fun and I look forward to the next book in this series.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."