What an astounding book! A profound story about life and loss and ultimately hope. A wonderful witness to the glory of God's master plan and his divine ability to heal the deepest wounds.
Petersheim has a unique writing style. Rich descriptive passages paint vivid images that add depth and vibrancy to a compelling plot. Unusual too, because the story is written in first person point of view. Pay attention to the headings and dates because The Midwife is told from different characters' viewpoints, both past and present. That took a bit of getting use to in the beginning, especially since some scenes were written in past tense and others in present tense, but once I got the hang of it, the words flowed until they built to an astonishing crescendo. Honestly, there is more than one gobsmacking surprise buried in this emotional tale.
There's also unspeakable sorrow as well. Experience has taught Rhoda to guard her heart and she has turned herself into an outcast in many ways. The broken pieces of her past mesh with the shattered ones in her present and turn into something so hopeful and good it defies description. An incredible read.
*My thanks to the publisher and Net Galley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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!