Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Cindy Woodsmall's When the Soul Mends ~ Reviewed

When the Soul Mends
By Cindy Woodsmall
Published by WaterBrook Press
ISBN-10: 1-4000-7294-8

Back Cover:

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance offers the first chapter here.

After receiving a desperate and confusing call from her sister, Hannah Lapp reluctantly returns to the Old Order Amish community of her Pennsylvania childhood.

Having fled in disgrace two years earlier, she finally has found a satisfying role in the Englischer world, as well as love with Martin Palmer, a man with whom she can safely entrust her heart. But almost immediately after her arrival in Owl's Perch, the disapproval of those who ostracized her reopens old wounds.

As Hannah is thrown together with former fiancĂ© Paul Waddell to work for her sister Sarah's mental health, unexpected truths surface about the events during Hannah's absence, and she faces an agonizing decision. Will she choose the Englischer world and the man who restored her hope, or will she heed the call to return to the Plain Life—and perhaps her first love?


Rarely is the third book in a series better than the two previous ones, especially when the others are bestsellers. But Cindy Woodsmall has outdone herself.

When the Soul Mends is an amazing finale to this series. Woodsmall does more than weave a great story; she can change your mind without you realizing she's done it. I had firmly sworn my allegiance to certain characters, and I don't change my mind easily. I've been known to throw a book across the room halfway through if it doesn't go the way I want it to. With the finesse of a master word weaver, Woodsmall makes the characters' changes subtle and incremental. In other words—real life.

When the Soul Mends is filled with conflict from beginning to end as Hannah battles not only obstinate family members, but the desires of her own heart. I couldn't put it down and finished it in one spell-binding sitting.

Not often does a series settle into my soul like the Sisters of the Quilt series has, and

When the Soul Mends gets Novel Reviews and my highest recommendation. It's a 5-star read.

Reviewed by Ane Mulligan

Bonus Review:

Review: I love how Cindy Woodsmall's characters touch the very heart of my soul. This is a story that we all can relate to, no matter what your background. Everyone struggles about where we fit in this lilfe we live, and what God's plan is for our lives. It's no different with Hannah and the community she has come from. Yes, they live a little differently, but the matters of the heart is what draw us together, and help us relate to one another. Here is a glimpse into one of the heart issues I'm talking about, "Your sister understood that love reaches out against all the odds and against all reasonable hope. I learned so much about freedom and hope and faith. Why can't you understand that people and circumstances aren't bound to what you can see in them today? If they were, there would be no need for faith." Wow!! Powerful stuff!

There were several times in this book I just had to laugh out loud. Cindy has a way of describing the simple things in life that touch your heart in unexpected ways and bring a smile to your face. I loved how each book starts where the last one ended. Since Cindy left us with cliff hangers for books one and two, I was glad she started exactly at the edge of the cliff where she left us hanging. I was also thankful that each book had a brief description of who was who. Since it was awhile between reading each book, this was helpful for me to remember who everyone was and where I had left off. Thanks Cindy!!

I also was intrigued with Cindy's ability to weave the lives of the Plain and the Englischers together, yet they were separate. It felt like this was a three dimensional book I was experiencing. Through Hannah, I was able to experience both worlds and see life from every side. I felt Hannah's heart breaking as she discovered things she never knew of her past and how all the pieces fit together. I could also feel for Paul and all his discoveries as well. Life just doesn't seem fair. God never said that it would be. Could I trust that God's power over my life is stronger than anything that happened to me? Something to think about! The author has a way of making me look at my own life through the events in these books and the lives and relationships I read about. Powerful stuff!!

Cindy Woodsmall takes on the topic of mental illness in this book, and does an amazing job of dealing with it from all sides. It's not easy to talk about for anyone – it's hard enough for the outside world to deal with -- but how the Amish/Mennonite people deal with this is one I never thought of. This story stayed with me long after I finished reading the last page. I felt like I had been included in the lives of Hannah, Paul, Martin and all the characters in between. If you have read the other two books you won't want to miss the conclusion to this series. If you haven't read this series it's definitely a must-read for everyone.

Reviewed by:
Nora St. Laurent - Book Club Servant Leader

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