Saturday, March 24, 2012

Book Review: A Life Of Joy

Author: Amy Clipston
Title: A Life Of Joy
Publisher: Zondervan
Publish Date: January 31, 2012
Buy: Amazon
Review Copy Provided By: Net Galley
Book Blurb: Take a trip to Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania, where you'll meet the women of the Kauffman Amish Bakery in Lancaster County. As each woman's story unfolds, you will share in her heartaches, trials, joys, dreams ... and secrets. You'll discover how the simplicity of the Amish lifestyle can clash with the 'English' way of life---and the decisions and consequences that follow. Most importantly, you will be encouraged by the hope and faith of these women, and the importance they place on their families. In A Life of Joy, the fourth installment in the series, eighteen-year-old Lindsay Bedford has reached a crossroads. Should she stay in the small Amish community she's known and loved for four years or return to the English life in her hometown in Virginia where her older sister is a college student? An extended visit to Virginia might just tip the scales as Lindsay reconnects with friends, joins a new church, works on her GED, and is pressured by her sister to stay and 'make something of herself.' Will Lindsay leave her aunt Rebecca and become English or settle in Bird-in-Hand and join the Amish church? Legions of Clipston fans want to know. Full of well-researched Amish culture, Clipston's book is true to form, delivering the best of the Amish fiction genre wrapped around a compelling story, with characters who will touch the hearts of loyal fans and new readers alike

Review: A Life Of Joy is quite different from most of the Amish fiction out there. Why? The main character, Lindsay, grew up English, and came to Lancaster County to live with her sister and aunt when her parents died. Her older sister Jessica, left the Amish way of life behind, but Lindsay embraced it. This story revolves around Lindsay and her struggle to decide whether she wants to join the Amish church.

This story has a lot of family struggles. Lindsay and Jessica don't see eye to eye on how they want to live their lives. Jessica is very much a worldly girl and she often foists her view on her sister, who is very comfortable living the "plain" life.

Linsday has many challenges to face. Her parents good friend is hurt in a fall, and she is sent back into the "English" world for a summer. This is really her rumspringa (running around time), for those familiar with the Amish Culture.  Her aunt Rebecca discovers she's pregnant shortly before she leaves, and she almost successfully keeps the difficult pregnancy from her, so she can enjoy Virginia. I can understand why Rebecca would do that, though at times I struggled with the reasoning of the Amish to not tell people when they are "In the family way."

There are times when you aren't sure if Lindsay is going to return to Pennsylvania, but her heart belongs in Bird-In-Hand. She no longer fits in with her old friends in Virginia, but she does take the time to explore things when she is there. What she learns is not very surprising, because she really seems to have embraced the Amish way of life.

I really enjoyed Clipston's characters. They seemed more real than some in other Amish fiction. Their struggles where more "real life." This is Book 4 in the Kaufmann Amish Bakery series. I haven't read the other 3 books, but I definitely want to go ahead and find them. I love books set in Lancaster County. It is a place I'm familiar with from family vacations. Reading books set in this location always makes me feel like I'm back there.

If you like Amish fiction and are looking for an author besides Lewis or Brunstetter, Amy Clipston's series will delight you.

Rating: 4 flowers


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