On July 4th I read a review of the book in the Cedar Rapids Gazette and immediately started my search. Living close to the Amanas and having visited there numerous times I just had to read it. I couldn't put the book down, it was a wonderful story about the two young ladies. I have just ordered the next two books in the series "More Than Words" and "A Bond Never Broken" and am anxiously awaiting their arrival.
I really enjoyed this book. But, in my opinion, the writing was good, not great. I just wasnt wowed by it. It IS a good book, and I loved the characters and seeing them grow and change. I also really liked the message or theme of secrets. I liked how the author portrayed how secrets can potentially destroy relationships and how wonderful it feels to just get everything out in the open. I would recommend this, just not highly.
Somewhere to Belong by Judith Miller is the first book in the Daughters of Amana series. Johanna Ilg has always been the ideal daughter for her parents in Amana, Iowa. Living on a religious commune that focuses on work and prayer is often a austere existance, and Johanna has long desired to see the world outside of their small community. When Berta Schumacher moves to Amana, she's in for a rude awakening. The spoiled and petted daughter of a Chicago doctor and his wife has been forced to give up her big city life for the hard life in Amana because of her out of control ways. Johanna is both intrigued and angered by Berta, especially after the elders force her to teach the young woman about their community. Berta is free-spirited and has no understanding of the rigid life of rules of the town, despite who it hurts. The two girls become friends, despite their differences, and both just may have something to teach the other. While this book is ostensibly a romance, it is in truth a novel of friendship. Berta and Johanna are both of the cusp of womanhood (Johanna more so), and are both incredibly sheltered. It's only through their leaning on each other and God that they will be able to manage the terrible secrets their families have been hiding from them. I hope in the next novel Miller demonstrates more of the Amana lifestyle and introduces characters outside of the kitchen. But I look forward to reading about what Berta is up to next!
The story follows two girls, Johanna Ilg, who has grown up in the Amana colonies. She enjoys her life there, and although she does having desires to see more of the world, she follows the rules and tries to live a life that would please her elders and the Lord.Berta Schumacher has just moved to the colony from a pampered lifestyle in Chicago. She resists all aspects of life in the colony and gets into any and all kind of trouble!These two completely different girls have been thrown into each others path and as Johanna is given the responsibility to train Berta, the girls from an unlikely friendship, though it's not without its' frustrations! When troubling secrets are exposed, the girls face the question of where they really belong.I will definitely say that I liked this book a lot more than I thought I would. Nothing in the plot is hugely dramatic or climactic, but it's the characters themselves that drew me in and kept my attention. Seeing the same story from two different viewpoints was a great way to get to know the girls better. A great story of family, friendship and the things that are really important in life!I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing.