Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Beside Still Waters by Tricia Goyer


Despite initial presumptions, a young Amish woman’s reluctant move across the country with her family to escape Englisch influences results not in lost love but deep spiritual discoveries.

Tricia Goyer is an acclaimed and prolific writer, publishing hundreds of articles in national magazines including Today’s Christian Woman and Focus on the Family while authoring more than twenty-five fiction and nonfiction books combined. Among those are 3:16 Teen Edition with Max Lucado and the American Christian Fiction Writers’ Book of the Year Award winners Night Song and Dawn of a Thousand Nights. She has also written books on marriage and parenting and contributed notes to the Women of Faith Study Bible. Tricia lives with her husband and four children in Montana.

My thoughts:
I received this book as part of a Litfuse blog tour for honest review purposes.  For awhile now I have been curious about Amish life.  Growing up my family used to occasionally visit my aunt and uncle who live near Lancaster.  I recall seeing people riding in a horse and buggy for the first time on one of our visits and hving a lot of questions about why they were traveling that way and also wondering if it was safe with all the cars and traffic.  At the start of this novel a young family is traveling home at night in a horse and buggy.  There are two little girls asleep in the back while a pregnant mother holds a little boy in the front with her husband.  With all of his passengers asleep, the father is feeling sleepy too and accidently drifts off.  The buggy is hit by a truck and the two girls are killed and the mother goes into premature labor.  This is how Marianna, the main character, starts her life within her Amish family.

This one tragedy puts a lot of other things into motion for this family.  After the prologue the story starts back up with Marianna at the age of nineteen.  Mari and her family live in Indiana in a very close Amish community.  Everyone watches each other to make sure that they are following the laws and are behaving appropriately, but the watching is to the point of being suffocating.  I've always had this picture of Amish people as being very religious and ready to help one another, which they were in this book, but at the same time it was almost as if they are afraid to do anything except in the predescribved way because everyone else will be talking about it.  For years Mari's mother got up super early so her wash could be on the line first thing in the morning so all her neighbors would see that she was doing her duty to her family.  Mari feels that she needs to try to take the place of the two sisters she lost in the accident and goes out of her way to try to be perfect.  A hearbreak for the family is that Levi, Mari's older brother, has chosen to leave the community and to live out in society.  Not only are they heartbroken about this, but they feel shame from the rest of community for this.

Mari's Uncle Ike convinces her parents that they should move to Montana for a while and they decide to go.  Mari is conflicted becuase she has always thought that she would be being batised into the church adn getting ready to marry Aaron.  She decides, however, that it is her duty to go with her pregnant mother to help her settle into her new home and to help her younger siblings (three boys and one girl with another on the way) get accustomed to their new home. 

Montana has a different feel to it.  The Amish community is smaller, but still works together and other members of the community are juist as likely to lend a hand and be charitable which really surprised Mari.  Her idea of what people are like outside of the Amish comminity is set on its ear.  Her old neighbors and friends keep hearing gossip and tidbits about how relaxced the rules are in Montanta nad worry that they will be led astray and might not be able to find their way back to God.

Mari becomes frinds with Ben, who is not Amish, and feels very conflicted about what to do with this relationship.  She has grown up feeling that to be close to God one must follow the Amish church, but at the smae time she is meeting people who act as if God is their friend.  Ben reads his Bible regularly and prays outloud.  He goes out of his way to help people who need his help.  She questions whether his way to communicate with God is just as acceptabel to God as her own.

The author did a good job making Mari a real person.  She is dealing with mich of the same questions and concerns as any other nineteen year old (minus those related to technology) and she is doing it with grace.

Product Details

Pub. Date: April 2011
Publisher: B&H Publishing Group
Format: Paperback , 320pp
ISBN-13: 9781433668685
ISBN: 1433668688

To celebrate the release of the first book in the Big Sky Amish series Tricia is giving away 10 copies of Beside Still Waters and a pair of super cute antique Amish salt & pepper shakers.
Details at Tricia’s blog, It’s Real Life:

BONUS! Each person who enters the giveaway will receive a FABULOUS Montana Amish Calendar. Hurry, it’s only available while supplies last!

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