Despite their simple lifestyle and devotion to faith and family, the Amish aren’t perfect and have just as many problems and emotional challenges as the English. This is the message that resonates in New York Times bestselling author Wanda E. Brunstetter’s upcoming novel, The Restoration. The February 1, 2016 trade paperback for Shiloh Run Press is the conclusion to her compelling Prairie State Friends trilogy.
“In my books I always like to show readers something about the Amish that isn’t widely known. One of my Amish friends once told me, ‘We are not saints and don’t want to be portrayed as such. We are human and are faced with the same problems as other people.’ So when it came time to write The Restoration, this is one fact I set out to weave into my story.”
Many characters in The Restorationare facing the consequences of mistakes they’ve made. Cora Finley abandoned the Amish faith years ago, leaving her two young children to be raised by their father so she could pursue a career in nursing. Now that she’s made her home in Arthur, IL, Cora desperately wants to forge a relationship with her now-grown son, Adam Beachy, and her three granddaughters that Adam is raising after the untimely deaths of his sister and her husband. As if the strained relationship between Adam and Cora isn’t enough to deal with, she worries about her teenage son, Jared, by her second marriage. How can she tell him and Adam they are brothers?
Then there’s Priscilla Herschberger, who is being courted by two men, Elam, her long-time Amish boyfriend, and David, an Englisher who’s in town visiting his grandparents. David says he wants to become Amish, but is his decision one of faith, or has he been swayed by his affection for Priscilla? Eventually, Elam betrays his friendship with both Priscilla and David, and they make mistakes as well. Even Priscilla’s mother makes an unwise decision in trying to protect her daughter.
Meanwhile, Jonah Miller, whose heart has been broken by three women, has given up on finding happiness and a mother for his two young children. He’s afraid to admit, even to himself, that he still loves Priscilla’s friend, Elaine Schrock. Having unwisely rejected Jonah in order to adequately care for her dying grandmother, Elaine has been proposed to by Ben. But she’s not sure she can ever love Ben since she still has deep feelings for Jonah. Could Jonah ever forgive her for rejecting him?
The ability of the Amish to forgive transgressions is something Wanda purposefully set out to show in The Restoration.
“Forgiveness doesn’t always come easily, even for the Amish, but their strong belief in God and his Word helps them to be able to forgive, even when it’s most difficult,” Wanda pointed out.
“In October 2006 several Amish children were killed by an English man, who overtook their schoolhouse with the intent of doing harm to the children,” Wanda continued “It was not easy for the families of these children to forgive the shooter, but they knew forgiveness is a prerequisite to healing. Some of them even went to the shooter’s funeral.”
Wanda’s ability to share her insight into the lifestyle of the Amish is one reason she has been called “Amish Country’s Most Beloved Storyteller.” She gained this insight through her close friendships with Amish families across the country, whom she often visits with her husband, Richard, whose family is Mennonite.