Family is woven all through out this story. A Mother missing her grown children. A Family reunion to bring them all together. Each person different but bound together by the thread of belonging to a family.
Phobe loves to draw which most Amish find odd. She sescapes often to draw pictures of nature. She begs to go on a trip to Niagara Fall with the young people.
There she meets Eli who loves to tell stories. They decide to write a children's book together. They meet every Wednesday at Library to work on it. Before they get it published tragedy happens in Eli's home. It looks like it could destroy Phobe and Eli's dream. Does it? I'll let you find out.
I had to chuckle over several of the scenes. So many memories of my own childhood and no, I'm not Amish.
Julia Miller's children have all grown and have families of their own, but Julia misses the houseful of laughter and joy. She hopes to gather the family for a summer celebration.
Julia's niece, Phoebe, goes on a rumspringe trip with other Amish youth to Niagara Falls. Her father is initially against the idea, but he relents when he learns the trip is well-chaperoned. It isn't as well-chaperoned as Phoebe thought, as she as plenty of time with another Amish youth Eli, from another district. Eli is enthralled by Phoebe's artistic talents, and encourages Phoebe to join him in a ventureÃ¢â¬âhe'll write stories, if she illustrates them. Can their love for literature develop into something that will last forever?
AN AMISH FAMILY REUNION is the next book in Ms. Ellis' Amish series The Miller Family, but enough information is given about each character that you don't have to read the previous books, though I'd suggest that you'd want to, to get the full story.
There are many different characters in this book, each of them having a place in the prior books, so you get a lot of continuing stories in AN AMISH FAMILY REUNION. The main story (Eli and Phoebe) is a romance, but the rest of the stories are with married couples and since they make up the majority of the book, I'm classifying it as women's fiction.
If you like Amish fiction, then you will want to read AN AMISH FAMILY REUNION by Mary Ellis. It is rich in description, leaving you see both the Ohio countryside and Niagara Falls in New York. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Eli and Phoebe's story and catching up with the other characters. Discussion questions and some yummy sounding recipes are included at the end of the book.
This book is part of a series, which I did not know, but it can stand alone. However, be advised that there are a lot of characters and, if you haven't read the previous books, it might be a bit confusing at times. But, although that can be a little distracting, it doesn't take away from the enjoyment of this nicely written book.
There are many themes woven together like a fine quilt: marital problems due to lack of effective communication, loneliness, fear, jealousy, among others. But aside form the many themes and the many characters, Phoebe and Eli emerge as the true leads in the story. She is a girl who keeps to herself, loves to be alone with her thoughts and her tablet to paint, but at the same time, she longs for something more, something more exciting, a new inspiration for her paintings.
And along comes Eli, whom I loved. He is unique; very outspoken, well read (something apparently not too Amish like) and somewhat fearless. He has big dreams, and Phoebe starts dreaming with him. The two are made for each other. And you wish to know more, to dig deeper into their relationship, but this is where the story is lacking. The reader is left wanting more, and not in a good way. We see Phoebe meet Eli (the Niagara Falls part is really good), and it's obvious they like each other, but then, instead of watching their story develop, we cut to Leah, and then Mathew, and later on Emma, and a few characters later we go back to Phoebe and Eli but already a few weeks have gone by. And this presents a problem because as you get interested in one story, the author cuts to a different one. And I understand that this novel is about the family per se, but when the selling point is Phoebe and Eli's story, and it certainly is a cute and sweet story, then the reader needs to spend more time with them, and it would have been better if the author cut back a little bit on the others, so not only we could see more of Phoebe and Eli, but we could understand better their thought process, their feelings and their decisions.
That said, the fact is that it is a good, enjoyable novel that in the end celebrates the importance of family and remaining close no matter the distance.
More like 3 1/2 stars out of 5
*I received a copy of this book from Harvest House Publishers through NetGalley in exchange of an honest review.