When it comes to Amish Fiction, a synonymous term should be author Beverly Lewis. Beloved for her story lines, pure writing, and intriguing details of Amish life, she is credited for creating the genre.
I had an opportunity to read and review a copy of her latest stand alone novel The River.
Lewis engages the reader with a beautiful cover and a slightly different approach to her typical novel structure- a sister pair who left the Plain life given an opportunity to return for a rare celebration. Though they had never made their vow to the church, relationships remained rocky and unknown as they faced family and friends for the first time since their departure. Though Tilly and Ruthie left for separate reasons, their return is equally uneasy. Haunted by the afternoon they lost their baby sister to drowning in the River and by past relationships, the sisters bravely return home. The path of reconciliation is not easy and comes with unexpected announcements.
Lewis is really in a class by herself when it comes to Amish fiction, and even this is not her best work in my opinion, it is still worth the read. It engages the reader with enough twists in the plot and fulfills the desire for reconciliation in many of the story lines. Long time readers will find the book still enjoyable due to its uniqueness of story lines.
While I love Lewis and the genre in general, I did overall not care for the book. Not a bad read, just not in the top 'must reads' for the genre. I felt the story would have worked well more in a short story or novella form. It was dragged out with twists that did not make sense or fit nicely within the story. I felt the reconciliation was too fictitious to be believe considering the years of hardship that were faced. I also felt the river and loss of sister became much less important to the story than the other conflicts. As a reader of Amish fiction I was also confused by the relationships presented (spoiling uncle, spoiling parents, lack of 'shunning' type of behavior, or interventions by a bishop). The fact that this was an Amish family did not seem believable based on other stories presented by the same author.
All in all, The River is not a bad read, but if it is your first time to the genre of Amish fiction, seek out some of the earlier classics or series by Lewis.
3 out of 5 stars.
*I was given a copy of the book in return for my honest review.