Publication Date: August 2010
Publisher: The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group
Genre: Christian Fiction/Amish
(Received for review from Waterbrook Multnomah)
Excerpt from The Bridge of Peace
Book Trailer: This a video of Cindy Woodsmall talking about what led her to become a writer
Synopsis (Book Blurb):
Love alone isn't enough to overcome some obstacles.
Lena Kauffman is a young Old Order Amish schoolteacher who has dealt all her life with attention raised by a noticeable birthmark on her cheek. Having learned to move past the stares and whispers, Lena channels her zest for living into her love of teaching. But tensions mount as she is challenged to work with a rebellious young man and deal with several crises at the schoolhouse that threaten her other students. Her lack of submission and use of ideas that don't line up with the Old Ways strengthen the school board's case as they begin to believe that Lena is behind all the trouble.
One member of the school board, Grey Graber, feels trapped by his own stifling circumstances. His wife, Elsie, has shut him out of her life, and he doesn't know how long he can continue to live as if nothing is wrong. As the two finally come to a place of working toward a better marriage, tragedy befalls their family.
Lena and Grey have been life-long friends, but their relationship begins to crumble amidst unsettling deceptions, propelling each of them to finally face their own secrets. Can they both find a way past their losses and discover the strength to build a new bridge?
Author Cindy Woodsmall brings readers the second book in the Ada's house series, called The Bridge of Peace. Woodsmall has been long known for her writing about the Old Order Amish and the ways of these plain people. Readers will fall in love with the inhabitants of Dry Lake and their struggles to exist in a world full of Englisher's. The author's uncanny ability to show the Amish as more than just a religious group, but as individuals who face the same obstacles as other people is one thing that sets this book apart from most of the Amish fare in today's Christian Fiction.
Lena Kauffman is used to adversity. She has spent most of her young life being the object of stares and whispers because of birthmark on her cheek. But, that doesn't stop Lena. One of Lena's greatest desires is to see children learn and her dreams are coming true as the schoolteacher for the Dry Lake community, but it is not without it's challenges. Peter, a new student is almost more than Lena can handle. His resentment and hatred threaten to destroy the school. As Lena tries to help Peter more and more attention is drawn to her teaching methods which some believe do not follow the Old Ways. Lena's long-time friend and school board member Grey Graber tries to help Lena but he has problems of his own . Grey's wife, Elsie has affectively cut him out of her life and just when they begin to turn the tide in their marriage, tragedy strikes. Will Lena be able to keep her job in spite of the troubles at the school? Will Grey be able to overcome his loss and move on with his life?
Cindy Woodsmall has crafted a novel that shows the Amish people in a different light. Most of the Christian Fiction Amish books out there have a very common theme. Amish woman or man, falls in love with an Englisher and must decide whether to continue in their faith or leave the Amish community. It is the same story told over in many different guises. Woodsmall changes it up a bit and that makes all the difference. Her characters are refreshing and her story lines are authentic and believable. She shows us that the Amish people are not perfect and still face the same problems that the rest of us do. The have the same desires and wishes that other people have, they just trust in God to work those things out instead of relying on themselves. I really liked the author's approach to the Amish people. She portrayed them as individuals and not just a part of a religious order.
For example, Lena's character was very well written. Like many women out there Lena faces body image issues due to a discolored birthmark on her face. Most women today are so caught up in societies version of what their appearance should be, that they have turned to drastic measures. Lena turns to God. She has learned to accept her birthmark though she still wonders if any man will ever be able to see past it and see her as a person. These are normal fears and worries that transcend the barriers between the Amish and the everyday person. I thought the author did an excellent job of showing how Lena dealt with her issues and was still able to have a positive outlook on life.
One of the things I appreciated in this second book in the Ada's House series was that the author didn't leave the characters we met in the first book out of the loop. The story of Ada and Deborah continues in The Bridge of Peace as does the story of Cara and Ephraim. Though they are not the main focus of the book, they are not left hanging. Cara continues to struggle with her decision of whether or not she wants to join the Amish community and Deborah is still grieving for the loss of Mahlon who has decided to leave the community. Readers who are reading this book without reading the first book will not feel left out, but I urge you to read The Hope of Refuge so that you can learn more about the community of Dry Lake and it's people. One of the most helpful parts of the book for new readers to the series is the descriptions of all the characters and Amish words and phrases that Woodsmall includes in this book. An excellent resource.
I recommend this one to readers of Christian and Amish fiction as well as to readers who want to begin reading stories about the Amish. Woodsmall does a wonderful job of giving readers a realistic view of a people who are sometimes misunderstood today.
The Bridge of Peace is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.
I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!
CINDY WOODSMALL is a New York Times best-selling author whose connection with the Amish community has been featured on ABC Nightline and on the front page of The Wall Street Journal. Cindy lives in Georgia with her family.