This review gives more insight than just "it was/wasn't a good book" or "this is/isn't a must read". While I try not to give too much away, sometimes it's difficult to write about the story and have it not be revealing.
Claire Shetler is a 44 year old widowed Amish midwife raising six children on her own; two of them are her nieces. Claire is a hard worker and she has passed that quality down to the kids. They all willingly pitch in to make money for the family in their own way. Her oldest son Matthew is now married and lives next door, with his wife Grace and her grandmother Elizabeth. Claire is having trouble accepting the fact that she has an Englisher for a daughter-in-law, especially since Grace wants to continue working as a nurse and not stay at home. It doesn't seem too difficult to me since Grace saved Claire and her unborn child's life in the first book of the series, An Uncommom Grace; you can read how Grace and Matthew met that book.
Englisher Tom Miller is a US Marine Captain. He travelled to Mt. Hope, Ohio to make amends to Claire and his own father for the pain he caused them 27 years before. But when he arrives, no one recognizes him since he looks and sounds different due to an injury.
While in Mt. Hope Tom discovers forgiveness from other people and God himself. Tom has to decide if he is going to stay in Mt. Hope or reenlist. Tom can't be English and be with the woman he loves and he can't once again be Amish and in the armed forces.
A few subplots are going on in the book. Claire's twin sister Rose is having problems with her husband. Matthew and Grace are having a difficult time as newlyweds. Also, Tom's father has failing health. They are all interwoven nicely into Claire and Tom's storyline.
I first met Claire, Matthew, Grace and Elizabeth in Uncommon Grace. I liked them in that story and I like them even more now that I've read Hidden Mercies. I was surprised to learn a few things about Claire that weren't in the first book of the series. The characters seem like real people that would be nice to have as friends and neighbours.
Serena Miller is an author that can show God's love for us through the characters in her stories. If you don't know about God's forgiveness offered to you before you read Hidden Mercies you will have an understanding after you read the story.
I received a free copy of this book from Howard Books and The Christian Manifesto in exchange for my honest review.
Ms. Miller is fast becoming known as a fantastic writer who loves the Lord and shares His love in her stories as she brings her characters to life. She hooks you on that first page and doesn't let you go until the end! This book is another example of her excellence.
Claire's wedding day is met with tragedy when the groom is accidently killed only hours before the wedding. Claire eventually marries and her husband dies leaving her with children to raise. Tobias Miller was injured in Afganistan and had reconstructed surgery. No one recognizes him as the banned young man. He now goes by the name of Tom. He rents a small room from Claire. I've only read a couple of Serena Miller's books but she is one of the best authors I've found lately. She's definitely an author I have added to my favorite's list. Now I have to see about purchasing more books by her. This book was definitely a page turner and the only reason I didn't finish it in one sitting, I had to go to sleep. Loved the book.
Serena B. Miller's "Hidden Mercies" is a heart-tugging story that fills you with hope. I am not a fan of Amish fiction, but this one was definitely different. It was a story of heartbreak, but it was also a story of how God works in our lives. When something undesirable happens, God has a plan of redemption.
Sometimes the hardest person to forgive is yourself. Tom Miller must learn to forgive himself in order to regain the relationships he left behind. If so, the pain of the past can bring forth hope for the future.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Howard Books, as part of its Book Review Blogger Program. 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."
Is is possible that your child could do something so horrible that you couldn't find it in your heart to forgive them? Is it possible to honestly hate your own child?
After twenty seven years, Tom Miller is returning home. He is finally willing to face those he has hurt beyond belief and he only hopes that they can find it in their hearts to forgive him as well. Twenty seven years ago, things between his family and the girl he grew up loving from afar were forever changed. His brother Matthew was supposed to wake up that morning and marry Claire, but instead he was offering the opportunity to ride a new thoroughbred horse that their friend Henry owned. Knowing there wasn't a horse that Matthew couldn't ride, this was a dream come true. Only when combined with the effects of drinking and following a bit too closely in the predawn hours, the accident that killed Matthew would be something he would carry with him the rest of his life.
Claire had finally moved on after learning that she was pregnant with Matthew's child just days after she was supposed to marry Matthew. How was she supposed to know that God had different plans for her than marrying the man, she though she would. Now that she is now 44, she has lived a fulfilled life as a wife and mother to Abraham, a man she married strictly out of convenience to give her son Levi, father to teach him what he needed to know to become a man. Now that she is a widow and raising her own children as well as her brother's orphan daughters, she finds that being a midwife and running a small store is enough to keep their heads above water.
When Tom returns home, he finds that after serving in Afghanistan, that due to his injuries sustained when a suicide bomber blew up in front of him, no one recognizes him. The scars to his face and the change in his voice from the attack give him a chance to talk with Claire and his own father to see if he can find a way to truly seek forgiveness in their hearts. Yet Tom soon learns that it might be best if he remained unknown to them when he finds that they both bear hard feelings towards the man they wished might never have come back.
I received Hidden Mercies by Serena B. Miller compliments of Howard Books, a division of Simon & Schuster Publishers for my honest review and received no monetary compensation for a favorable one. Being a huge lover of Amish Fiction and having read An Uncommon Grace, I was looking forward to reading Hidden Mercies to pick up Claire's story. While it's not necessary to read An Uncommon Grace to gain a full understanding of this novel, once you read the story of Claire and Levi, you will want to go back to revisit Claire's story from the beginning. This is truly a story about the freedom that forgiveness really brings, not so much for the person we are forgiving but for us. There is such a power in letting go of bitterness, hard feelings and accepting that no matter how often we fail in life, God is always willing to extend us the mercy of His love and true forgiveness. This is a beautiful example of that in Hidden Mercies, and one I highly recommend with a 5 out of 5 stars.