Monday, December 20, 2010
Vanetta Chapman's A Simple Amish Christmas ~ Reviewed
A Simple Amish Christmas
Published by Abingdon Press
Annie Weaver always planned to return home, but the 20-year old RN has lived in Philadelphia for three years now. As her time of rumschpringe is about to come to an abrupt end, bringing for Annie an overwhelming sense of loneliness. She returns home and finds herself face-to-face with Samuel Yoder—the Amish farmer her community turns to for most of their medical needs. Samuel believes he has recovered from the loss of his wife and child in a snowstorm eight years before. Then Annie Weaver upsets his world again—with her youth, energy, and passion for healing.
This was my first Amish fiction. Normally I pass by such titles, assuming they are overly idealistic, centered around unrealistic, fructose characters. When I read A Simple Amish Christmas, I was pleasantly surprised. Vannetta Chapman managed to bring depth to her characters without losing their unique Amish behaviors and beliefs. The characters were so real, their inner difficulties alone kept me turning page after page. Despite the extreme differences between modern day life and the traditional Amish culture, I related to many of Annie Weaver’s struggles. As a woman, she longs for a family, but she doesn’t want to have to put her brains on the shelf in order to acquire one. Driven by compassion and the gift of mercy, she wants to find a way to use her medical training, but appears prepared to give it up in order to live the life she loves among the community she grew up to depend on if need be. But will God make her choose or will He provide a way for her to do both?
It was clear the author spent a great deal of time researching Amish life and language. Through out the story, traditional language from the Pennsylvanian Amish community is presented. Occasionally, I found this distracting, but most of the time it added to the tone and setting. A glossary of the terms used is provided at the end of the book.
The heroine, Annie Weaver, is a young Amish woman returning to her community after having tasted life among the English, or non-Amish. Her brief time away allowed her to pursue a life-long, perhaps even God-given, love of medicine. Understanding how difficult it must have been for this very sheltered young woman to pursue and complete nursing school, I was impressed by her courage and drive. I understood the fulfillment nursing provided, and the connection she felt with her patients. But I also related with her feelings of restlessness and isolation. Surrounded by a city full of people, she longed for the deep sense of community her Amish family and friends provided. When her father is injured, she hurries home to help him recover. It is then that her two loves, that of community, faith and tradition and her love for medicine, collide.
This was perhaps the best book I have read so far this year.
Reviewed by Jennifer Slattery
Reflections In Hindsight