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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Hope of Refuge by Cindy Woodsmall (Book Review)


Title: The Hope of Refuge
Author: Cindy Woodsmall
Publisher: Waterbrook Press


First sentence: Sunlight streamed through the bar's dirty windows as the lunch crowd filled the place.

My synopsis: Cara felt like she had been on the run with her daughter forever. But now that Mike had found her again, and this time knew her daughter's name and school - she needed to really get lost. Unfortunately Cara had been "lost" her whole life. Her mother died when she was 8 and her father left her at a bus stop and told her to wait for someone named Emma Riehl who was going to come and get her. Emma never showed up and Cara ended up in foster care. It was while she was here that she met Mike. As a teenager she had tried to go to the police about him, but they did not believe her. She married when she was 17 to get protection from him. When her husband died a few years later, she was left to raise their daughter Lori alone. Mike soon found out and began to stalk her again.

Discovering an address in a journal that her mother Malinda had kept, Cara sets out with Lori with little money and just the clothes on their backs. They are headed to Dry Lake, Pennsylvania, an Amish community. Cara has not been able to trust anyone for so long, that when she shows up in Dry Lake she hides out in a barn with her daughter. She feels as if she knows this place though, but doesn't know how or why. They attend a local auction with the hopes of finding some food when Cara hears the name Emma Riehl again. She knows she must get some answers, but doesn't know what she is going to do for food and shelter in the meantime.

Her stay in the barn does not last long as a local has called the police. They claim they have seen a drunken thief in the area and that she appears to be living in this barn. Before the police can take her away, Ephraim steps in and tells them that she and her daughter can stay with him. He is not quite sure why he has done this, as it will cause problems in the community. Especially if she is who he thinks she is - the daughter of Malinda Riehl, who was banished from the community many years before and left much hurt in her wake. He remembers playing with her for a week when he was a child and has never forgotten her.

Cara's presence in Ephraim's household does indeed cause problems. He is shunned, more severely than normal. This means he is not allowed to speak to any other Amish person, nor sit with them at a table, nor take something from their hands or hand them something. He has also been banished from working at his cabinetry business. In spite of all this, he hears "Be Me to her" when he is having his greatest doubts and feels deep inside that he is doing the right thing. He has no clue how all this will end though.

My thoughts: This was really my first "Amish" book - and I know there are a lot out there right now! I really enjoyed it though, and it gave me a look into a world that I did not know anything about. On one hand, I don't know how people live without electricity, cars, TV, etc - but on the other hand life would be so simple! I am not sure that I would be happy like that forever though. I believe in the same God that they believe in, but I am not sure that if you are not born Amish that his would be a society that you would ever truly belong to. This says it is an Ada House novel, so I am hoping that there are more to come. There were a lot of background characters - Deborah (Ephraim's sister), Mahlon (Deborah's fiance), Ada (Mahlon's mom) and Anna Mary (Ephraim's girlfriend) that I would like to learn more about. I have a feeling that there will be some good stories there!

Oh - there is a cute puppy in the book which Ephraim names Better Days which makes for some good one liners!

The Hope of Refuge
Publisher/Publication Date: Waterbrook Press, Aug 11, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-4000-7396-2
336 pages


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