Several time periods, lives, and mysteries are woven together masterfully in Jolina Petersheim's second novel, "The Midwife." Â This beautifully complex story bounces back and forth between 1996 and present day as we learn about Beth Winslow's deep heartache that stems from her mothers' abandonment. A graduate student hoping to pursue a PhD in bioethics, she agrees to be a surrogate for her professor-and so begins a long and winding path she never expected to take.
I could say so much more about the story and its characters but hesitate to even accidentally give anything away. Please, run to your bookstore or favorite ebook app and get this book (along with "The Outcast", please) right away!
I received a free paperback copy of "The Midwife" by Jolina Petersheim in order for me to read and review it for Tyndaleblognetwork.
I have read both of Jolina's books and enjoyed them both. It takes some getting used to her style of writing where you switch from the viewpoint of different characters in the book. 'The Midwife" follows Beth Winslow in the mid 1990's and Rhoda in 2014.
Beth agrees to be a gestational surrogate for her graduate adviser and his wife. But when there are problems, the parents decide that if the baby isn't "normal" they want to end the pregnancy. Beth "kidnaps" the baby still in her womb and flees to the Dry Creek Community of Old Order Mennonites. She hopes she can start a new life and find someone to love that won't abandon her like her mother had done.
Rhoda resists help from the outside world fearing that with it her past will come to light and shatter the life she has built for herself as head midwife for Hopen Haus in the Dry Creek Community. When her past finds her, will she be able to come to grips with those who've abandoned her and those she's abandoned? Will she be able to trust God to lead her through so she can find her Hope?
The book is set in an Old Order Mennonite Community mostly. Since Hopen Haus is a home for unwed mothers, there has obviously been some past "indiscretion's", although there isn't much elaboration on them. It shows that any person (even "Plain" ones) can fail.
I had a hard time putting the book down and found myself skimming over the words to see what was going to happen sooner. But I didn't want to miss anything, so I'd slow down and read it all! The prologue confused me until I was quite a ways into the the book. I think it would be better to not be there personally.
One time in the book one of the girls has an infection and someone asks if they gave her penicillin. They reply that she is allergic to penicillin so they gave her amoxicillin instead. Being allergic to penicillin myself, I was told that it didn't matter which one it was if it was in the same family, so they couldn't give her amoxicillin, either. I don't think it took away from the story, it was just an observation I had.
I would recommend" The Midwife" to those who enjoy Inspirational or Mennonite/Amish romances. The romance isn't the main story line, but it is there at the end.
As the dust from the dirt road settles, and you pull into the drive, you see it: Hopen Haus. A woman in plain clothing and a kapp steps out onto the porch. You walk up the steps and instead of judgment, you receive love; instead of ridicule, you find acceptance. The midwife's strong, quiet voice says, "Come, my girl," and your weary heart knows that you've come to a place of refuge, where hope is restored...
Beth Winslow has agreed to be a surrogate for her professor & his wife; she has given birth before, a son, who she gave up for adoption, and she needs funds to complete graduate school, so this seems to be the perfect option. What Beth doesn't expect is to fall head over heels in love with the child in her womb, a daughter the biological parents decide they don't want after early tests indicate abnormalities. She chooses to flee to Hopen Haus, and that choice colors the rest of her life with events she could never imagine.
The Midwife is a beautiful, heartbreaking story about motherhood, forgiveness and healing. Although at first I found the story to move more slowly, I came to appreciate the way in which it was told. Alternating between the past with Beth and present with Rhoda and Amelia, the scenes build the story, reaching a culmination that is tinged with both the bitter and the sweet that reconciliation can bring. I love entering a story after the choice has been made - the chips have fallen and maybe it's not the way the character wanted things to turn out; it's messy and discordant. Knowing the "what" of the story isn't as important or compelling as knowing the why and how. In The Midwife, although the reader has some foreknowledge that the characters don't have, how the characters choose to react to the path that their life has taken is beautiful and compelling.
The first-person narration is top-notch, and I hope that the author continues to use this style - I felt like I knew these characters as real people. I wanted to know them! Even the secondary characters a layered and come with descriptions that brought them to life. The scenes flow seamlessly one to the next, and although the subject matter is realistic and life-like, I read quickly because I couldn't do otherwise - I was that engrossed in the story.
This is a story about being grateful for the time you have and instead of mourning lost time, rejoicing in what you have now. It's about new life and re-birth and when you finally let go of bitterness, grasping the blessings that can still come from life's messes, no matter how much time has passed, no matter how far out of reach that healing might seem. The ending was perfect - no, everything didn't end perfectly, but it fit the story, bringing things to an end, yet also to a new beginning.
I can't recommend Jolina Petersheim's novels enough. The Midwife is another keeper on my shelf and one I will most likely read again, perhaps when I'm a mother myself and can even further appreciate it. If you want a story of the broken and flawed, yet healed and redeemed, you will find it in these pages. Highly recommended!
The Midwife is one riveting read, a real page-turner, and you really never see what is coming. This is one where I can usually figure out the ending in my mind, not this one.
As we travel down on journey of life, it is probably a very good thing that we cannot see what is around the next corner. We travel with Beth, really beginning with her consensual decision to be a surrogate, having already experienced the pain of giving up a child to adoption. How she thought that it would be easier the second time is beyond me, although genetically the child wasn't related to her.
Funny how God places people in our path that and that appears to be just what happens in Rhoda/Beth's case. Of course there is evil present, and it is hard to believe the form it takes, and yet even this has some good in it.
Although we are in a Mennonite Community, you basically will see no difference here than in an Amish Community, this one is really Old Order. No electricity, or cars, and we are mainly in a home for unwed mothers, from all backgrounds. For some this must be a really rude awakening!
As we travel in Beth's shoes, I wholly agreed with her decisions, and loved how she becomes the person she does, and how all things work out. A really great read.
I received this book from Tyndale House Publishers through Net Galley, and was not required to give a positive review.
Masterful storyteller, Jolina Petersheim, has penned a riveting, emotive tale that vacillates between three women from different walks of life, but all having two things in common --- deep buried secrets and a desperate need for love.
Beth Winslow, a graduate student agrees to become a surrogate for her professor and his wife. Upon realizing that the child she is carrying may be abnormal and the parents want her to abort it, Beth flees the city and seeks refuge at Hopen Haus, a Mennonite home for unwed mothers. Rhoda, the head midwife at Hopen Haus gives everything to the girls who are incumbent upon her care...except her heart. Past hurts and secrets cause her to carefully guard her broken heart at all costs, especially when Looper, a lost love comes unexpectedly to her aid at Hopen Haus. When a young woman named Amelia arrives bearing secrets of her own, will Rhoda finally come to terms with her past and find healing for a barren midwife's soul?
The Midwife isn't your typical, light Mennonite/Amish book, and was born through a time of intense loss, heartbreak, and subsequent healing for the author, Jolina Petersheim. It is a heartrending story, but one of hope, healing, and redemption. A mesmerizing, unpredictable novel, filled with twists and turns, and an element of suspense -- you'll find yourself madly flipping those pages to see if happiness continues to elude Rhoda, the midwife. Jolina Petersheim is a fresh, unique voice in Christian fiction, who knows how to weave a compelling story that evokes powerful emotions in her readers from page one until the satisfying conclusion.