Reviewed by Phee Paradise
By Beverly Lewis
The premise of The Thorn is fresh and should have kept my interest. Two Amish sisters are struggling with love and commitment. Hen, the older, has left the Amish life to marry an English man who is antagonistic to her past. Rose is committed to being Plain, but has a rebellious friend. Their stories are told in a parallel fusion, moving back and forth from one point of view to the other.
At first I wondered how they were connected, since Hen had left the Amish fold. But she visits her Amish family with increasing frequency as she begins to doubt the wisdom of her choices. Her dilemma arises from watching her daughter grow up without any knowledge of her heritage, and – worse – in a very worldly environment. Rose’s dilemma lies in her friendship with the bishop’s adopted son, who remembers his early life and is ambiguous about being Plain. She is happy with her life, including being courted by a handsome Amish man. But her sister and her friend have planted doubts she doesn’t even know she has.
Unfortunately, In spite of this original approach to a story about the Amish, The Thorn did not grab my attention. Rose seemed very childlike in her interests, creating mysteries out of simple everyday occurrences. It seemed as if Lewis had confused a Plain view of life with a simple mind. On the other hand, I was able to relate to Hen who was afraid of the world’s influence on her daughter. But I couldn’t grasp why her husband was so opposed to any hint of the Amish entering their world.
Having said this, I don’t want to turn prospective readers away. The book is well written and the story has enough conflict and intrigue to keep the plot moving. The Amish are presented well and if you like reading about alternate lifestyles, you will finding it interesting.
Pros: Good depiction of the Amish and their responses to the world. The characters face challenging dilemmas that force them to examine their beliefs, hopes and desires.
Cons: Many of the characters lacked depth and their motivations did not seem clear.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Not until her own children were well into middle school did Bev seek to publish her work, first in magazines such as Highlights for Children, Dolphin Log, and Guideposts for Kids. Her first book followed in 1993—Mountain Bikes and Garbanzo Beans—presently retitled Big Bad Beans (book #22 in the popular CUL-DE-SAC KIDS series of chapter books—see list of Bev's children's books).
Beverly's first venture into adult fiction is the best-selling trilogy, THE HERITAGE OF LANCASTER COUNTY, including The Shunning, a suspenseful saga of Katie Lapp, a young Amish woman drawn to the modern world by secrets from her past. The book is loosely based on the author's maternal grandmother, Ada Ranck Buchwalter, who left her Old Order Mennonite upbringing to marry a Bible College student. One Amish-country newspaper claimed Beverly's work to be "a primer on Lancaster County folklore" and offers "an insider's view of Amish life."
Booksellers across the country, and around the world, have spread the word of Bev's tender tales of Plain country life. A clerk in a Virginia bookstore wrote, "Beverly's books have a compelling freshness and spark. You just don't run across writing like that every day. I hope she'll keep writing stories about the Plain people for a long, long time."
A member of the National League of American Pen Women, as well as a Distinguished Alumnus of Evangel University, Lewis has written over 80 books for children, youth, and adults, many of them award-winning. She and her husband, David, make their home in Colorado, where they enjoy hiking, biking, and playing with their three grandchildren. They are also avid musicians and fiction "book worms."
ABOUT THE BOOK
Rose Kauffman, a spirited young woman, has a close friendship with the bishop's foster son. Nick dresses Plain and works hard but stirs up plenty of trouble too. Rose's sister cautions her against becoming too involved, but Rose is being courted by a good, Amish fellow, so dismisses the warnings.
Meanwhile, Rose keeps house for an English widower but is startled when he forbids her to ever go upstairs. What is the man hiding? Rose's older sister, Hen, knows more than she should about falling for the wrong man. Unable to abandon her Amish ways, Hen is soon separated from her very modern husband.
Mattie, their young daughter, must visit her father regularly, but Hen demands she wear Amish attire--and speak Pennsylvania Dutch, despite her husband's wishes. Will Hen be able to reestablish her place among the People she abandoned? And will she be able to convince Rose to steer clear of rogue neighbor Nick?
Watch the book trailer:
To read the first chapter of The Thorn, click HERE.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Reviewed by Phee Paradise