I can't believe it's been over a month since my last First Line Friday. Christmas was wonderful with all our children and our grandson home with us. Since then, we were blessed with a second grandson on January 17th. And we are heading to Connecticut this weekend to be there when our daughter blesses us with our first granddaughter. Aging isn't so bad when grandchildren are the reward.
You may not remember, but I mentioned before that I've never read an Amish novel. Well, I finally decided to give one a try. I loved it! Today, I am featuring Winter's Awakening by Shelley Shepard Gray.
"The weather's getting a fair sight colder, wouldn't you say?" Gretta Hershberger asked Joshua as they rode along the black-topped winding roads just south of Sugar Creek.
Joshua Graber knows his future is set. He's expected to work at his family business, the Graber Country Store. He's expected to marry Gretta Hershberger, who he's been courting for several years. But when a new English family moves next door and their lovely teenage daughter, Lilly Allen, catches his eye, Joshua wonders if all the plans for his future are too set in stone. Gretta doesn't know what's going on with Joshua. When they argue and later stew in silence, it feels a lot like the frosty atmosphere at her home. After promising herself to never have a marriage like her parents, she wonders if perhaps another man might be a better match. A man such as Roland Schrock. He's steady and kind and somewhat boring. If she marries him, she won't ever have to worry about loving him and getting hurt. Meanwhile, Lilly is enamored with the Amish way of life, and especially her handsome neighbor Joshua. But despite being drawn to him, she has a secret that will only drive him away. Her family moved to Sugarcreek to hide her pregnancy from their community back home. Once she's had the baby, they plan to send her off to college without anyone from their old neighborhood knowing the truth. But as Lilly becomes wrapped up in the simplicity and graciousness of the Amish people, she begins to question what's expected of her, and whether giving up her baby, and leaving Sugarcreek, is what she truly wants. As the coldest winter on record blows into Sugarcreek, these three young people must struggle to determine the path of their futures.
I'm not sure what my hesitation was about reading an Amish romance. I supposed I didn't want to imagine having to live such a restricted life. I love modern technology and conveniences. I certainly would not want to have to give up my smartphone (yikes!). On the other hand, I understand that the Amish like the way they live, so I didn't want to see that diminished by an author in any way. Whatever my reason may have been, I'm so glad Winter's Awakening was my first experience in this genre. The author handled the two cultures perfectly, in my opinion. She showed the beauty, practicality, inconvenience, and love that can be found in the Amish community. At the same time, she showed the same thing in Englisher culture. The reader will experience both cultures in a realistic manner.
As far as the romance, I don't want to give anything away. But I loved how the realization of love slowly evolves in this story. The characters are well developed and I could understand their frustrations, disappointments, questions, and vulnerabilities. As you see their lives unfold on the pages of this novel, you can't help but hope for a happy ending for Joshua, Lilly, and Gretta. The ending was all I was hoping for. And I learned some things about Amish culture in the process. I loved this book. And, yes, I will be reading more Amish novels in the future.
First Line Friday is something every reader can participate in. Pick up a book near you. Type the first line in the comments, along with the title of the book and the author. If you’d like, check out the books other readers have featured on their blogs by clicking on the Hoarding Books link at the end of this post.
January 19, 2022