Monday, August 1, 2011

Healing engaging collection of stories, perfect for summer reading!

Healing Hearts by Beth Wiseman

This book contains three separate novels within the one volume. They do not build on or relate to each other, but are stand-alone stories. I loved each of them. They are tender romances with enough conflict to keep the reader turning pages. I love that they are chaste and clean enough for me to read with a clean conscience and to share with my teenage daughter should she want to read them. I also really enjoyed the small amount of Pennsylvania Deutsche that the author included in the dialogue. It made the stories seem just that much more enjoyable and realistic. Each story has very well defined characters and a well-described setting, so the reader is immediately captivated and feeling a part of the culture and the storyline.
Incidentally, I learned an interesting fact in reading this book: Pennsylvania "Dutch" is actually a mispronounciation of Pennsylvania "Deutsche" or German. That makes so much more sense to me now. I had always wondered why the Amish dialect was called 'Dutch', yet actually seemed to be so similar to the German spoken by my parents and grandparents. Now I know, lol!

The first novella is A Choice to Forgive. It is a wonderful story of love, loss, and forgiveness. The main character, Lydia is left to raise her three children alone when her husband dies. Her first love, and former suiter, Daniel, drops back into her life, giving the story its drama, and, ultimately, giving the reader a wonderful glimpse of the healing power of forgiveness.

The second story in the book is A Change of Heart. This was perhaps my very favorite of all of the stories, although I did really love them all. In this story, Leah, the second of four sisters in an Amish family, is struggling with her own dreams of becoming a writer, which is not a traditionally accepted goal for an Amish woman. She is definitely the odd sister out in her family, and feels as though she comes up lacking when compared to her sisters. The story introduces a very colorful character in the person of Auntie Ruth. Leah finds herself becoming attracted to her soon-to-be brother-in-law, the great nephew of Auntie Ruth. It is a very engaging story; hard to put down!

The third novella in this book is Healing Hearts. It is a very touching and emotional story of Lavina Lapp. She is an older woman, mother of 5 grown children, who finds herself abandoned by her husband. It is a perhaps too emotional story of how Lavina struggles to find the trust to allow her husband back into her life and heart after the hurt he has caused her. I did really enjoy this story, too, but it pulls on the heart-strings a tad too much for me. As a married woman, it did give me a well-needed pause to consider if I am doing all that I can do to keep the love and romance alive in my marriage.

I wish is was possible to give this book a 4 1/2 star rating, but since the half star isn't possible, I am going to have to go with 4 stars. The stories were very uplifting and enjoyable, but were kept from being as good as they could have been by the slight predictability of the plots, the shortness and non-connectedness due to the stories being novellas, and the slightly over-emotional nature of the final story. All that said...I would certainly offer the book to a friend as an very pleasurable, quick read, and I am glad I read it myself. I love reading Amish stories. They have a way of making me see the simple beauty and blessings in my own life.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising

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