Happy with her lifestyle, despite falling in love with Paul Waddle, a non Old Order Amish man, her life is turned upside down after an horrific event. An event that no-one in her close-knit community or her Mennonite fiance knows how to handle. She finds herself lost and alone convinced that not even God is able to guide her.
Rejected by her family and wider community, she leaves behind the Amish people seeking some sort of redemption in the 'outside world'. She leaves behind friends (some of whom stood up to the possible scorn of their families and friends) to stand by Hannah, to help her leave her home (When the Heart Cries and When the Morning Comes). In the following years, Hannah returns to the community that shunned her for a 'sin' that she was not culpable of to help her younger sister (When the Soul Mends). Upon her return, she discovers that her Paul - the man she was ready to marry regardless of how her father felt - was lead down a path that denied them reacquainting with each other. From this reunion, Hannah needs to make a somewhat difficult decision to return to the Amish lifestyle or remain living in the Englischer world.
This is an amazing story. Rich with likable and identifiable characters, I was able to sympathize easily with Hannah and her struggle to be understood. The Amish are sometimes mocked but that's because they lead such a simple lifestyle that to most 'Englischer's' it's odd - how can someone not live with a phone, a television or even a electricity? Woodsmall's trilogy is easy read and its narrative flows seamlessly from one book to the next. Hannah and her family's and friends' journey took me on a myriad of emotions. At times I became frustrated with the people that I met along the way, how a simple misunderstanding(s) can create such a mess. How one person's good intentions are easily rejected which leads to people being hurt. It certainly wasn't all doom and gloom either, there are lots of moments of such tenderness and real, deep love. The author focus' on a number of families and I found myself rooting for them all to find contentment and happiness. Essentially, the trilogy is about love, compassion, family and ultimately believing that the path God leads you down, isn't one you'd necessarily choose for yourself, but it's one to be journeyed with belief and hope.
Once I started reading this novel, I just couldn't put it down and when I read the final page, I did so with a smile on my face. The ending may come across as a little twee but it's a happy ending and one that I thoroughly enjoyed. A highly recommended read!
I received a complimentary copy of this book from WaterBrookMultnomash publishing company as part of the Blogging for Books program. The opinions expressed here are my own.