If you think you don't like Amish fiction, I would urge you to give this one a try before you write the whole genre off. To say it is different from the run of the mill Amish fiction book is an understatement.
I never gave a thought to how World War II affected the Amish. I just assumed that since they were conscientious objectors that they would be exempt from service and then just carry on with their lives. In actuality, when an Amish man was drafted he had to go serve in a Civilian Public Service camp. Now if that isn't interesting enough, think about what would happen if an Amish man felt like God was telling him to join the Army.
That is the premise of this book. Henry Mast who has always been a caring and upstanding member of the Amish community has the deep conviction that God is requiring him to enlist and serve his country. This decision has very far reaching repercussions. He was just weeks away from marrying Miriam Coblentz when he was drafted. She was content to wait for him when he was at the CPS camp but now that he is going against the beliefs of the Amish community that she loves where does that leave her? What about Henry's parents and siblings? How will they withstand this shame that Henry has brought upon their family? What about when/if Henry returns from his service? How will he fit back in to the community?
This is an absolutely fascinating read. When I first began reading it I wasn't sure that I was going to like it at all. I am part of a very proud military family and the whole conscientious objector theme at the beginning of the novel just didn't set well with me. But the farther I got into the story the more I liked it. Elizabeth Younts' writing is captivating. Most likely this is because she is not only from an Amish family but she is an air force officer's wife. Both of those aspects bring an authenticity to the story.
For all the Amish fiction lovers out there this is a must read. For all the skeptics this is one to give a try . . . I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. I'm looking forward to book two in the series. It will contain the story of Eli Brenneman from Promise to Return, as he serves in the CPS at a mental asylum. Sounds like another unique book in this genre!
I received a copy of this book to facilitate my review.
This was a different kind of Amish book whereas it took place during WW II. Written by a new author who happened to have grown up Amish, this story gave more insight into areas of Amish rules and culture than I had ever read before. In fact, I wonder if my father, who served in WW II, had even heard of Amish back then. Anyway, the characters, Henry and Miriam, were about to visit the bishop to begin planning their wedding when Henry got drafted. Being Amish and a conscientious objector, he went to a work camp to serve out his time. But even though that was all that was required of him, he told Miriam that God had spoken to him and led him to enlist. Miriam now struggled, for most of the rest of the book, with a decision to follow her Amish faith and culture, or to choose to love and follow Henry. I really enjoyed this book at first. Then it started to drag with what felt like unnecessary information. But soon it picked up again and I wanted to read all night. It is such a different Amish book, but so historically and culturally interesting. I do recommend this book.
I received this book through Howard Books, and was not required to give a positive review.
Promise to Return is about an Amish couple, Henry and Miriam. Henry and Miriam are engaged to be married during World War II. Miriam has to make a choice between following the Amish beliefs and her heart when Henry decides to enlist in the United States Army. Henry promises that he will return to Miriam and they will then marry. What choice will Miriam make? Love or staying on Amish?
I have to say this was definitely different from most Amish books I have read. I never even thought of the Amish during the World War II era. I found it really fascinating.
The middle of the book was a little slow to me but picked back up in the last quarter. I couldn't believe the ending. I was completely surprised by it. I would recommend this book for lovers of World War II history and Amish fiction. 4 stars.
It's 1943, and Miriam Coblentz and Henry Mast are nearing their wedding day when the unthinkable happensâ€”Henry is drafted. However, since he is a part of the pacifist Amish tradition, Henry is sent to a conscientious objector Civilian Public Service camp. When he leaves for the work camp, his gaping absence turns Miriam's life upside down. Little does she know it's only the beginning... When Henry returns home, he brings news that shakes Miriam and their Amish community to the core. Henry believes God has called him to enlist in the army and fight for his country, leaving her to make an important decision: whether to choose loyalty to the peaceful life she's always known or her love for Henry. Two worlds collide in this unforgettable debut novel, providing a fascinating and rare look into Amish culture during World War II. While Henry is battling enemies across the ocean, Miriam struggles between her devotion to Henry and her love of the Amish way of life. One question is at the bottom of it all: will she follow the rules of her religion or the leading of her heart?
While the Christian market is being flooded by the Amish genre in the last 16 years, this one is a chart topper. Filled with suspense and the authentic voice of someone who has grown up Amish, Younts write a not-to-be missed debut novel that gives us a glimpse of Amish culture during World War II. This is the kind of book that leaves you wanting more of this kind of setting, and the writing was stunning, remarkable and absolutely magnificent.
My favorite element of this novel was the portrayal of the angst that Miriam felt as she tries to decide whether or not to wait for Henry. I have to admit, I love novels that paints the hero and heroine at odds because of elements outside of their control; their parents, their beliefs, their situations, etc. I am a sucker for any story that keeps the lead characters from each other not by their desire, but by things they cannot change. This is a well written work that deserves recognition for what it is: a fresh look into the history of World War II, through the eyes of the same Amish we have all learned so much about in recent years.
This book was provided by Howard Books for free in exchange for an honest review.
Lately one of my least favorite genres has been Amish books because they seem so prevalent or marketed as something other worldly like. What do I mean? For instance, one novel I was to review lacked depth, authenticity, and most of all a plot. Sometimes too the Amish and their lifestyle are highlighted as better than what others live or more along the fantasy type genre.
However, I am so glad to have read Promise to Return for here is an author who was raised and lived the Amish lifestyle. Through the novel her aim to enlighten readers as to what possibly may have been experienced by some Amish communities during World War II. Elizabeth Byler Younts writes with more than her knowledge or experience; her heart is clearly present on every page throughout the book.
Here is a story with characters that have depth of heart, emotions and life happenings that grip the heart of the reader; drawing them into the perspective of the main female character named Miriam and the male lead Henry. As I read the story, I became aware of how lifelike Amish communities can be, which is not as they are sometimes presented. They are people who experience joy, pain, sorrow, laugh, cry and make choices as to Who is leading their life just as those who aren't Amish do.
I was reminded of the price servicemen and women pay, and perhaps more so the families during WW II. We are used to instant everything today and waiting seems like a major inconvenience and frustration. Back in the 1940's, the time between seeing a soldier off to war and hearing anything from them varied and when no word was received, that had to be one of the most heart wrenching experiences our past generation suffered! So, perhaps as you read this fictional story you might be reminded as I was that the cost of the freedoms we enjoy or abuse today came at costs we may never really understand.
I cannot wait for the sequel to Promise to Return, which focuses on a different character from this first novel. Just know that this is one author to read, follow and know that she is open to engaging with anyone who desires to know more about the Amish or her own life by contacting her at