Promise to Return
(Howard Books) is
a sensitive love story set during World War II written by Elizabeth Byler
Younts. Elizabeth’s Amish upbringing gives us a genuine and unique vision into
Amish relationships with her intimate knowledge of authentic Amish life. This
insight richly colors the novel with historical accuracy, depicting Amish life
during WWII in the small Delaware town of Sunrise.
story begins as Miriam and Henry have postponed their wedding while Henry,
drafted by the government, serves his mandatory two years in a Civilian Public
Service camp for conscientious objectors. While in camp, Henry hears of the
atrocities being committed by the Nazis. During a visit home, Henry reluctantly
tells Miriam he feels he has been called by God to enlist in the Army to fight.
This news causes many reverberations within the pacifist Amish community. How
does this kind and gentle young man who values his Amish roots and loves a
traditional Amish woman handle the contradiction of being Amish yet
volunteering to fight a war he considers just and right?
family is already suffering shame with the shunning of her sister Kathryn who
disappeared to marry a non-Amish man. The last thing her parents want is more disgrace
brought upon their family due to Miriam’s relationship with Henry, who is now
shunned by his church and family. Miriam’s father forbids her from writing to
Henry and advises her to find a new suitor.
time Miriam develops the courage to defy her family and church to choose a life
with Henry, she gets pulled back to follow her father’s rules. With all her
vacillating, Miriam becomes an outcast in her Amish community. She wants Henry
and her simple Amish life back. She struggles with why he needed to join the
Army and upset their wedding plans. Younts’ excellent writing focuses on the
inner conflict that many women experience during war time, to wait for their
true love or settle for something less.
for Miriam comes from an unlikely source as her shunned sister Kathryn comes
back to re-establish a relationship with her family. Family secrets are
revealed and Miriam is determined to continue her relationship with Henry and
face the church penalties later. The push and pull of attempting to live up to
family and church expectations while trying to satisfy one’s own desires is a
reoccurring theme. Choices made by Miriam and Henry have consequences they each
must endure.God’s call to Henry to
enlist in the Army and fight in WWII has far reaching significance. And for
Miriam, until she is ready to be silent and listen for God’s plan for her, she
is unable to move forward.
1940’s setting for this story is compelling and offers a different twist from
typical Amish novels. The ending gives an extremely satisfying surprise with
all the real life wartime complications added in. Elizabeth Byler Younts has
written a remarkable historical Amish romance in Promise to Return, which released October 2013.
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.