This is the first book of a series by Cindy Woodsmall called The Hope of Refuge (Ada's House Series, Book 1). I downloaded this from the library as an audio book read by Cassandra Campbell.
I thought the author's name sounded familiar, which is why I downloaded the book. I had read one of her series, Sisters of the Quilt, a couple years ago and really enjoyed it.
I'm not usually a fan of Amish religion based novels, but I was glad that I gave Cindy Woodsmall a chance. Her writing is superb and very impressive. Since I don't know all that much about the Amish, I really can't say much about her research, though I'm sure that just like any other writer, she did her best to make sure everything seemed as authentic as possible. :-)
I wrote about how there are some authors that can write about the anguish and pain that one of the characters is going through with such detail and feeling... sometimes I'm in the mood for one of these kind of books and even if I wasn't, this writer has that talent and draws you in and keeps you there even when you try to stop.
Our main character of the story, Cara, is the daughter of a shunned Amish woman that fell in love with an outsider. Cara and her daughter are being stalked by some crazy man that she had met when growing up in foster. The last time she ran away from that man, she ended up going to an Amish community that she remembered visiting when she was a young girl. She thought her mother had friends there and was trying to find out who they were - and possibly hope that she'd be able to find a job and place to stay in the mean time.
The pain that was going through Cara had me crying! I'm not a religious person, but seeing how Cara's relationship with God changed through the book made this book amazingly good. I'm sure that anyone who is a mom and has had to make sacrifices so that their own children/child could be more comfortable can relate to what Cara is going through. There was a bit of romance going on through the story as well, but that was not important to me. When Cara found out that these 'friends' that she thought her mother had were actually family and people that her mother had grown up with, the shock of the whole situation was more than enough to force her to take a fresh look on her life and situation.
Of course, even though I don't think it was necessary, Cara's love interest, Ephraim, tried as best he could to give her his support and prayers through the whole book, which eventually caused his own problems with the community.
Now, here is why I don't think the whole romance thing didn't really work in this book... I got the impression that this book is more of a woman's journey to find God and peace for herself and her daughter... and she was able to do this with the community that her mother loved and missed so much. To have lived such a lonely life in foster care, then after the death of her husband, then to find everything she ever wanted and more... this is what made the story work. As cheesy as I make it sound, the writer did an awesome job in getting this across. The romance part was too typical... with the lack of communication... the "Oh, I love him/her but I can't say anything"... Now, to a person that reads a whole lot of romance, that plot is getting old. One thing that I've learned in 19 years of marriage is that you need communication to make anything work!!! In a relationship between girlfriend/boyfriend, husband/wife, parent/child... that whole "I can't say anything" part of the plot just doesn't work for me anymore. Now, if that subplot were written just a little more different.. but of course, I have no idea how, but let's just say "if" it were so that it didn't make me want to roll my eyes like a teenager, then I think this book would have been way better. Not that it wasn't good, but it could have been spectacular. :-)
Now, the next question is... will I continue reading (or rather, listening) to the series? Well, I believe that the library does have the second book that I can download, but my interests may take me in another direction so I really can't say. I can say that I was happy to have read this book though. It doesn't change anything about my cynical views on religion, but seeing a relationship bloom, even if it is with God, is almost as good as a well written romance. :-) :-) :-)