review Entering Sugarcreek, in Shelley Shepard Gray's Hopeful, we meet is Miriam Zehr, as she is rushing to work. How often we all find ourselves rushing and not seeing what God has blessed us with in our lives. Junior Beiler, laden with the responsibility of raising his 7 siblings after the early deaths of their parents. Aren't we also often so concentrated on our responsibilites, we are unable to see those who God has placed in our lives? Mary Kate Herschberger and Judith Knox, both suffering with pain and fear from recent events in their lives; not unlike any other person who has turned their pain into shame. These charcters lives meet and intertwine through chance, through friendship and in God's timing. Hopeful, gives us insight into the beauty of hope and what can happen when, even the smallest flicker of hope is carried in our hearts. Shelley takes us into the simple lives of an Amish community and shares how they too are not immune to life's complexities and problems
In the Amish town of Sugarcreek, love comes in many forms. But will it come at all for Miriam?
Miriam Zehr has worked at the Sugarcreek Inn longer than she cares to admit. The restaurant is a favorite of town residents as well as the many tourists who come to taste the famous Amish fare. Though she always tries to have a smile for every customer, deep down Miriam knows something's missing: a family of her own.
Miriam has never felt particularly beautiful, especially because she's always been a bit heavier than other girls her age. When Junior, the man she's pined for all her life, suddenly seeks her out, she's thrilled to be noticed . . . until she realizes he's only asking her to help get the attention of Mary Kathryn Hershberger, her pretty friend.
If Miriam helps Junior court Mary Kathryn, she'll get to spend a lot of time with him, but she might lose him in the process. Are these few stolen moments worth a lifetime of sacrifice? Is Miriam right to even hope for the life she dreams of?
Going into this book, I had a lot of ideas about how I would feel about the story. I've been in Miriam's shoes, and I've often wondered if men are capable only of looking at a woman and seeing her based on how she looks. But Gray delves so much deeper than just outlining the problem and writing a boy-gets-girl story.
For Junior and Miriam, it all boils down to who they were as people; never about superficial things like looks or weight. I really appreciated how Gray put Miriam out there and showed us how she really felt about always being the wallflower to prettier girls and forever being in the background when it came to attention from boys. She is the kind of girl I would want to be friends with because her character understood what it means to truly see a person and what they have inside, instead of what they appear to be at face value.
This book was provided by the publisher through Litfuse Nest for free in exchange for an honest review.
This book is the first in a new series by Shelley Shepard Gray. Some of the characters have appeared in her "Seasons of Sugarcreek" series. It was like hearing updates and catching up with old friends. This book focuses on Miriam Zehr. She has had a crush on Junior Beiler for many years. He has never noticed her before but he suddenly approaches her. She is ecstatic but soon realizes that he wants her help courting her best friend Mary Kate Hershberger. Miriam is devastated but she is so kind that she agrees to help Junior even though her heart is breaking. Mary Kate, the pretty schoolteacher, has issues and secrets of her own. I liked that the situations seem real and not contrived. The relationships were realistic and had both ups and downs. I was pleased with the ending and can't wait for the next in the series. I can't decide which of the characters that I would like Shelley to focus on in the next book. I'm part of Shelley's new group "The Buggy Bunch." Â Â
Miriam Zehr is a single Amish woman in her twenties. Even though she seems happy working at the Sugarcreek Inn she longs to be married and have her own family. She has liked Junior Beiler for as long as she can remember and is excited when he asks to see her. Miriam is in for quite the disappointment when she finds Junior only wants to see her because of her best friend, Mary Katherine, whom he would like to court. Miriam is heartbroken but agrees to help Junior in his effort to court Mary Katherine.
What a great book this was! It was easy to get into and from the first page I felt as if I had known the characters forever. The characters are all likable and "real" but I could especially relate to Miriam. She is the type of girl you would want to be friends with. I'm sure everyone knows someone who is like her. I liked Junior too even though I wanted to ask what he was thinking at times.
The story flows smoothly from beginning to end. I found myself wanting to read faster to find out what happens but at the same time wanting to read slower so the book wouldn't end. I really enjoyed the time I spent with these characters.
I am definitely recommending this book to anyone who likes Amish fiction, Christian fiction or just a good clean book to read.
This was such an enjoyable book on so many levels. You cannot help but fall in love with Miriam who always knows the right thing to do or the right thing to say to a friend. All her life she has had a crush on Junior Beiler but he only wants to be friends because he wants Miriam to help him get to know her best friend, Mary Kate. Though disappointed, Miriam agrees to try and get Junior and Mary Kate together. But Junior finds out that Mary Kate wants nothing to do with him because she is escaping a bad relationship but never reveals that she is really being stalked by Will. As Junior gets to know Mary Kate, he realizes that she is not the woman for him, but that Miriam is. When Will finds Mary Kate and holds her hostage and hits her, Junior appears at Mary Kate's door with the intention of telling her just that, but winds up saving the day. Now they all realize what Mary Kate was running from, even her parents were not aware of Will's abuse. Finally, Junior professes his love for Miriam, and realizes all the ways she has helped his family. A very happy ending indeed.
The sub-plot is of Judith and Ben. Judith has had a miscarriage and is told she cannot have children which devastates her. Ben and her family struggle to get her out of the depression she falls into and slowly she gets better. It is as this point that Ben introduces the idea of adoption with Judith. At first, she is reluctant, but finally completes the paperwork and they go forward with the adoption process.
The characters in this book are real, their problems are real, and in the end they are there for each other, as Miriam has always been for all of them. Five stars for Shelley Shepard Gray.