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  1. The Bargain, Plain City Peace Series #1
    The Bargain, Plain City Peace Series #1
    Stephanie Reed
    Kregel Publications / 2013 / Trade Paperback
    $11.99 Retail: $14.99 Save 20% ($3.00)
    4.5 Stars Out Of 5 11 Reviews
    Availability: In Stock
    CBD Stock No: WW442151
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  1. Age: 18-24
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Such a cool book!
    October 13, 2013
    Sufficient in Jesus
    Age: 18-24
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    "Gritty" "Authentic" and "Can't wait for the next volume!" are not words I have ever used to describe an Amish novel.

    There are two explanations for this phenomena: One is that I came up with that when I wasn't around, the other is that I just met an extraordinary book whose heroine happens to wear a bonnet.

    It is the latter. The Bargain, book one in The Plain City Peace series is now a serious competitor for my Favorite Fall Read of 2013.

    Our leading lady, Amish girl Betsie, views the upheaval of the American 1970's with wise-beyond-her-years eyes.

    She is the perfect protagonist for us to examine the big themes through her perspective, and her religion set in contrast with what appeared to be an "anything goes" 70's culture, raises a ton of questions.

    In the middle of Amish morality, carefully maintained and set down as the community's laws, Betsie's parents have become Christians.

    They now know the One who died for them, who set them free from trying to keep a set of laws that cannot save them. They now follow the Lord who set them free instead to live in purity and grace out of Love, because of Love.

    Betsie cannot understand why they would make this terrible mistake and leave the religion they were raised in. And Betsie and Sadie, her sister, will not follow their mother and father out into the world of the English... not to stay.

    Betsie's time with the English is going to be strictly business, living with an English family so that she can temporarily take her cousin Nelson's place as their harness shop apprentice. She will keep her distance from the family members and will not, according to Amish tradition, even speak to customers by herself. Instead she will diligently fill a notebook with all that Nelson needs to know, and hope that he can come back soon and take his rightful place.

    {See that notebook she's clutching in the cover illustration? That's the one!}

    But Betsie never thought that she would walk into the Sullivan home and they would turn out to be people, with their own struggles and fears and with their own longings for family.

    You will be delighted as Betsie meets Sheila, the daughter. Suddenly Betsie has a cheerful little girl befriending her, a girl who wants to be involved in the wholesome work and pleasures like helping to wash dishes and make cookies.

    And she meets the owner of that yellow Super Bee car you see on the cover. Michael.

    I found myself really liking this kid.

    He's comical one moment and dead serious the next.

    A wounded rebel, Michael wants to stand for something in a world that is falling for everything. He is the epitome of a young man trying to find himself, set adrift in a sea of philosophies that the world is offering him, unsure where the Northern star of absolute truth has gone.

    He's a poet inside and a cynic to the world.

    Ravi Zacharias would love to meet this young man.

    Michael reminds me of this quote from Mr. Zacharias:

    "In the 1950s kids lost their innocence.

    They were liberated from their parents by well-paying jobs, cars, and lyrics in music that gave rise to a new term ---the generation gap.

    In the 1960s, kids lost their authority.

    It was a decade of protest---church, state, and parents were all called into question and found wanting. Their authority was rejected, yet nothing ever replaced it.

    In the 1970s, kids lost their love. It was the decade of me-ism dominated by hyphenated words beginning with self.

    Self-image, Self-esteem, Self-assertion....It made for a lonely world. Kids learned everything there was to know about sex and forgot everything there was to know about love, and no one had the nerve to tell them there was a difference."

    That is Michael. A young man the Lord can mightily use, Michael just needs to be introduced to Jesus.

    Oh, how I am waiting for the sequel! Hurry, Please!

    Thank you Litfuse for this book!
  2. Summerfield, FL
    Age: 18-24
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    October 10, 2013
    debwilson
    Summerfield, FL
    Age: 18-24
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    It's 1971, and Betsie Troyer's peaceful and predictable life is about to become anything but.

    When their parents flee the Amish, nineteen-year-old Betsie and her seventeen-year-old sister Sadie are distraught. Under the dubious guidance of a doting aunt, the girls struggle to keep the secret, praying their parents will return before anyone learns the truth—a truth that may end all hopes of Betsie's marriage to Charley Yoder.

    Worse still, Betsie must learn a trade while she boards with a dysfunctional Englisher family: Sheila, a twelve-year-old desperately searching for a friend and in dire need of her mother; the free-spirited mother, who runs off to "find herself" on the stage; the angry father whose structured life crumbles; and Michael, a troubled college dropout nearly killed in the Kent State Massacre.

    Thrust into the English world, Betsie must grapple with the realities of war and miniskirts, pot parties and police brutality, protests and desertion. Can she help the Sullivan family and find peace in her new surroundings, or must she forget the bargain she made and seek refuge back in Plain City with protective and reliable Charley?

    My Review:

    This book was an absolute disaster for the characters! Reed takes a train wreck of a bargain and makes it a heck of a good story. The best way to describe this story is That 70's Show meets the Amish. I felt so bad for Betsie throughout the story, especially with how heartbroken she was when her parents bailed on the only life she knew. And when it came down to either marry the man she was supposed to wed, or forever live a life she was never meant to have, she has no idea which one is the right choice. A well written novel that reads like nothing else out there in the genre, colorful, vibrant, and a dynamic piece of fiction.

    This book was provided by the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review.
  3. Victorville, CA
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    An Amish woman gets more than she bargained for!
    October 7, 2013
    Heart2Heart
    Victorville, CA
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    "The problem with the English is that everyone wants to lead. No one wants to submit to authority." ~ Betsie's Journal

    Imagine a novel where an Amish woman makes a bargain with her cousin and winds up experiencing what life is like for an English family in the 1970's. That is just the premise for the latest novel by author Stephanie Reed, The Bargain, her first novel in the Plain City Peace series.

    Betsie Troyer has made a bargain with her cousin Nelson to mind the harness shop while he agreed to serve in the Chicago military hospital without being drafted for two years. The arrangement would include her living with the Sullivans, an English family during her apprenticeship, while her own parents have agreed to leave behind their Amish way of life and heading to Belle Center, Ohio. They have agreed to allow their children however, to make their own choices about whether to leave or stay behind. Betsie is more that convinced her parents are making the wrong decision.

    She meets Michael Sullivan, a college drop out, hippie and the only son of the Sullivan's she is planning on working for when he arrives to pick her up for work in his yellow-jacket colored Super Bee. He lives in the small town of Hilliard and is prone to the typical emotional outbursts that were common for teens dealing with all the issues surrounding the time in which this novel takes place. He is moved to the peace movement and tries to teach Betsie some of the slang words of the English as she attempts her first visit to their local supermarket in order to fit in. She clearly doesn't have a clue to what she is saying or doing and finds herself at odds in how to fit in with this very different family.

    She is befriended by Michael's younger sister, Shelia who is 12, who she teaches the value of hardwork in taking care of the house, which is being left by the wayside by the now newly liberated Phyllis Sullivan, Shelia's mom. The family is used to such modern conveniences like a dishwasher, washer, and dryer and the television which occupies the late night hours after dinner, which they are use to getting out of a box or by making a TV dinner which is clearly unheard of in Betsie's family.

    What ensues along the way is a blending of two very different cultures and two very different types of people. There are some great humorous scenes like Betsie watching an episode of Gilligan's Island and isn't sure why a "good buddy" is being hit with a hat by another man all the time, or why Michael seems upset when Betsie fixes his blue jeans and removes all his patches to make him look less like a scarecrow and more like a respectable man. This is truly an example of an Amish woman who finds her way into That 70's show!

    I received The Bargain by Stephanie Reed compliments of Kregel Publications and Litfuse Publicity for my honest review. I did not receive any monetary compensation for a favorable review and the opinions expressed are mine alone. There are some great quotes that are included at each chapter opens from Betsie as she journals what her life is like now living among the English family. This one was truly a different kind of Amish fiction for me than I have ever experienced and gave me new insight into what life would have been like for someone so different trying to fit in during a unique time in American history. I rate this one a 4.5 out of 5 stars and look forward to the next novel in this series.
  4. Wanham, Alberta
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    a different tone of Amish novel
    September 22, 2013
    Marianne
    Wanham, Alberta
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    What would you be willing to risk in order to follow your convictions? In the past and even today, people have left behind home and family, friends, employment for a better life. Or, if my family left all that they believed and the way they and their parents had lived, would I blindly follow? As I read The Bargain I had to think on this. This is a very different type of Amish story than most of those I have read, coming at it from the daughters whose parents left the Amish way of life. Although I have never been in this situation, nor has anyone that I know, Stephanie was able to make this personal and instead of telling me the story, she somehow managed to involve me as surely as if it was my own family. This also explains the difference in the Amish lifestyle that goes beyond the dress the very obvious things we see such as mode of travel and lack of electricity and electronics. Those who find that most books on the shelves these days are about the Amish and are looking for a change will find this refreshing, and those who love those same novels will be happy to add this to their collection.

    I received this book as an advance reading copy from Amy at Litfuse Publicity Group and Kregel Publishers in exchange for an honest review. A positive critique was not required. These opinions are my own.
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