Friday, November 05, 2010

Cindy Woodsmall's The Bridge of Peace ~ Reviewed

By Cindy Woodsmall
Published by Water Brook
342 Pages

Back Cover:

Lena Kauffman is a young Old Order Amish schoolteacher who has dealt all her life with attention raised by a noticeable birthmark on her cheek. Having learned to move past the stares and whispers, Lena channels her zest for living into her love of teaching. But tensions mount as she is challenged to work with a rebellious young man and deal with several crises at the schoolhouse that threaten her other students. Her lack of submission and use of ideas that don’t line up with the Old Ways strengthen the school board’s case as they begin to believe that Lena is behind all the trouble.

One member of the school board, Grey Graber, feels trapped by his own stifling circumstances. His wife, Elsie, has shut him out of her life, and he doesn’t know how long he can continue to live as if nothing is wrong. As the two finally come to a place of working toward a better marriage, tragedy befalls their family.

Lena and Grey have been life-long friends, but their relationship begins to crumble amidst unsettling deceptions, propelling each of them to finally face their own secrets. Can they both find a way past their losses and discover the strength to build a new bridge?


I was excited to receive a review copy of this book which is the sequel to The Hope of Refuge. This book continues the story line of Cara and Ephraim. Cara is a woman who was raised outside the Amish Community and returned to discover her family heritage. In the mean time she met Ephraim and fell in love. Ephraim is willing to wait for Cara to learn the Old Order Amish ways and join the church in order for them to wed. What I liked most about Cara was her passion to do the right thing as the same time be true to herself. She slipped up every now and then or discovers a new rule she knew nothing about. The elders would always seem to find out. Like when she brought a bike for her daughter to enjoy. “What’s so wrong with a bike?”

Ephraim explained, “It’s one of those old rules we’ve stuck by. They’re a bit flashy, and they allow a person to travel a lot longer distances than a foot scooter…I never said that I agree with all the Ordnung. I just trust that for the most part the regulations are needed to protect our ways and help us stay close and accountable.”

I enjoyed Cara and Ephraim’s courtship and the journey Cara and her daughter were on to learn and make the Amish ways their ways.

Lena Kauffman is new to this series. She is a young old order Amish schoolteacher, who has a passion to teach despite the many challenges she faced in doing her job and life in general because of the noticeable birthmark on her face. Lena is asked by Elsie and Grey Gaber to evaluate their son. Elsie thinks he’s slow and Grey disagrees. Lena aggresses to test the boy and tells them, “We all have a handicap and every one of us had to figure out how to get work done.” This didn’t mean their boy was slow. I liked Lena’s out look on life and how creative she was in teaching.

Deborah and Ada are in the story line in a big way. It was fun to read about how creative they were in running their business. Deborah surprised me as I learned how she liked pulling pranks on others. It was funny to think of the Amish women pulling pranks on one another. It cracked me up.

Cindy Woodsmall shows not everyone happy and/or life isn’t always simple in this Amish community. It was interesting to read how Grey and Elsie dealt with their marital struggles. It found it fascinating and funny to watch Cara and her daughter learn the Amish ways and yet struggle with what they loved in their old life. I was also surprised by Lena and enjoyed her zest for teaching and life. Everyone in the community couldn’t get over what she did on her rumspringa. I was surprised too. Lena not only had a passion to teach but she had a heart to help her community. Once again this author writes a heart felt story in the Amish community with several twists and turns, novel that is about patience, love, joy, hate, forgiveness and suspense. The conclusion of this series comes out in the fall of 2011. I look forward to reading it and you will too!

Reviewed by: Nora St. Laurent

The Book Club Network

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