Dee Yoder (Kregel Publications) carries a profound spiritual message throughout
the story of 17-year-old Leah and her Old Order Amish family, which resides in rural
upstate Ohio. Leah is being smothered by the endless rules within her
authoritarian community. She longs for freedom or at least an understanding of
why the Amish have so many rules that don’t make sense to her.
Her incessant questioning of the Amish faith frustrates
Leah’s parents. They want her to get baptized and married, and quit raising
questions on matters of faith around her younger siblings. Leah wants to please
her parents. She loves her parents, but feels suffocated. Her love for Jesus
and unquenchable desire to read and understand the Bible prevents her from obeying
her parents. When Leah declares to the Amish bishop and preachers that she has
been studying the scriptures and that she has been born again, the bishop puts
Leah under the Miting, in other words, shunned.The preachers determine that Leah is under the grip of Satan. She leaves
her home and Amish community after secretly spending time at a Bible study
group run by the Schrocks, an ex-Amish couple who are known to help Amish youth
restart their lives in the Englisher world.
Dee Yoder writes convincingly of the life Leah leads as
she learns the Englisher way of life while sharing a small apartment in the
Schrock’s basement.She loves being able
to openly read her Bible every morning and learn more about God; she also loves
the comfort of air conditioning, comfortable clothes, the feelings of freedom to
learn, and to drive. But Leah is desperately
missing her family and a certain young Amish man, Jacob.Leah remains hopeful that someday she will be
able to lead her family to true salvation and grace.
The Christmas season arrives and Leah’s homesickness
increases. With a young person’s hopefulness, she impulsively decides to return
home to her family for Christmas. Her family’s reaction to her return is not
what she was hoping for. Her bible is forbidden again. The bishop once more is
coming down hard on Leah. The only bright spot in her life is Jacob and he has
a plan for them to eventually be together and to worship as they please. Readers
may want to hold their breath as they finish this book. The ending is gut wrenching
and troubling but ultimately delivers a satisfying conclusion.
This novel gives us a glimpse into the dark side of some
Old Order Amish sects where reading the Bible is prohibited, only the bishop
and deacons are permitted to interpret scripture. It also touches upon disturbing
themes of incest and holding young adults against their will to stay Amish. The
author delivers a clear comparison between born again Christian faith as
contrasted to Old Order Amish and lifestyle. Dee Yoder gives a new perspective on the usual Amish romance novel, one
that will be hard to put down and forget.
Gloria is a 59-year-old retired RN and former accountant who has
a life long love of reading. She has spent the last two years reading every
Amish novel she can get her hands on.When not reading, Gloria spends her day trading stocks and options,
tweeting under the name of @gloriason, and expressing her gratitude to God. She blogs at amishreader.blogspot.com.