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
This is my first book to read from this author and I enjoyed it very much. I did enjoy the book, at first I kept thinking this is like another author's story that I recently read, but as I read on, I saw that Elizabeth had a totally different story. I loved Henry, and wanted to smack Eli. He was not a good friend to Henry, nor Miriam. I enjoyed the realistic view we had of an Amish family, with Elizabeth's family being Amish, she was able to give us a great view of that. My favorite side story in this book, was Kathryn. It really spoke to me that while she was banned, her mother still kept in touch with her. Overall I loved the book, and enjoyed it very much. Most definitely worthy of a five star review!
This book was provided by Howard Books for my honest review. No payment was received for this review.
When World War II breaks out, Miriam Coblentz's peaceful Amish world is turned upside down...
It's 1943, and Miriam Coblentz and Henry Mast are nearing their wedÂ¬ding 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 imporÂ¬tant 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 fasciÂ¬nating 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?
PROMISE TO RETURN is Ms. Younts debut fiction novelâ€”and the first book in her The Promise of Sunrise series. I fell in love with Henry - such a wonderful young man who was willing to be led by God despite the rules of the church - and Miriam who is afraid to do anything but toe-the-line. I wanted her to break free a few times and do what Henry wished for her to do. And I got upset at her and Henry's best friend several times.
Fans of Amish fiction will devour Ms. Younts' PROMISE TO RETURN. Having Amish family, Ms. Younts writes things that the average Amish writer wouldn't think to include. And the threat of WWII and the quiet lives of the Amishâ€”it is fascinating to read how they might interact. I knew Amish served as conscientious objectors or were drafted, but it is totally believable that one might've enlisted on his own. Discussion questions and an interview with Ms. Younts are included at the end of the book.
On the day that Miriam Coblentz and Henry Matz are meeting with the bishops to discuss their upcoming wedding plans, Henry receives his draft notice. They had almost made it, but now the war will be what keeps them apart for now. Since Henry is Amish and killing others goes against his religious beliefs in the Ten Commandments, he is assigned tasks as a conscientious objector in the Civillian Public Service camp, digging trenches and other tasks. However it isn't without risks.
Will Miriam be able to find the same man after Henry serves his time during World War II, or will the horrors he witnesses take a toll on the man he used to be? How will the men that Henry deals with, the English, see him as one who refuses to fight? Will they have any respect for a man who refuses to defend his own country?
In the novel, Promise to Return by author Elizabeth Byler Younts, this novel picks at a subject most don't come to think about, how the Amish dealt with World War II. I think Elizabeth utilizes all her knowledge and experience both being raised Amish and having a husband who serves in the armed service to blend together a wonderful and compelling story of how much we are willing to risk to serve not only others but our country as well.
Miriam is feeling overwhelmed because of what she has been brought up to believe as well as what the Amish community has been saying not only about Henry but about what will come of their wedding when Henry returns. She takes to heart what people are saying not only to her but about Henry and at times is at odds trying to defend their beliefs. She worries that she might not ever see her dreams about being married and raising a family come to pass especially when Henry returns on a short leave at Christmas and tells her about the discrimination facing the Amish men by the English and their beliefs in not wanting to fight when they are so desperately needed. Henry surprises Miriam when he tells her that he has decided to enlist because it is something he believes God is calling him to do. But is it really?
Now Henry will face shunning by the Amish community when he returns because he has taken it upon himself to enter the war efforts and it is simply more than Miriam can take. Meanwhile there is a man who has an interest in her, Eli and now with Henry out of the picture, will he be able to persuade Miriam that her best interests lie in marrying him instead? You'll have to pick up this novel and find out.
I received Promise to Return by Elizabeth Byler Younts compliments of Howard Books, a division of Simon and Schuster Publishers for my honest review and received no monetary compensation for a favorable review. Being a huge fan of World War II fiction as well as Amish Romance, I was thrilled to be able to read this one. I never really considered how the Amish had to deal with the war effort until picking this one up and really loved the conflict for Henry. Trying to decide what is the right thing to do without all the added peer pressure not only from the American soldiers but also from his Amish community. Definitely a hard place to be and trying to convince Miriam that he still plans on marrying her when he returns if she will wait for him. Definitely a task worthy of faith in God and one that takes the reader on an unforgettable journey! I rate this one a 5 out of 5 stars! There is a great reading guide that is perfect for book clubs as well as a letter to readers from the author explaining her idea in writing this book being a former Amish member and what people had to deal with regarding entering the war as Amish residents.