An Amish Easter Wish
I’ve always enjoyed Jo Ann Brown’s Love Inspired titles for their smooth writing, light touch, and realistic settings and complications. An Amish Easter Wish has all that. It’s the second book in the Green Mountain Blessings series, which follows the lives and loves of people connected with the Amish Helping Hands organization who volunteer to help a town’s residents rebuild after a disastrous flood. Main characters from the first book play secondary roles in this one, but although I have not read the previous novel, this title stands perfectly on its own.
The residents of Evergreen Corners are still reeling after the flood washed away homes, businesses, lives and dreams. Abby Kauffman comes into town from a nearby Amish community to oversee volunteers at a local church kitchen, which serves regular meals to both residents and volunteers. Abby feels a strong call to ministry here and has remained in town for many weeks, much to her eldest brother’s dismay and disapproval. Although she works for altruistic reasons, Abby is also relieved to be away from her home, where a new stepmother has assumed Abby’s long-time role as housekeeper. In Evergreen Corners, she can also avoid haunting memories of a near-fatal accident for which she blames herself.
David Riehl is one of the Englischer residents of Evergreen Corners, a talented appliance repairman, known for being able to “fix anything”. However, he has struggled for ten months to become a parent to Mikayla, a teen orphaned when her father, David’s best friend, died in a car crash. Mikayla rarely speaks to David, but since starting to volunteer with the other teens in town, she can’t say enough about someone called Abby. David is ready to applaud the connection until he answers a service call to repair the kitchen’s freezer and learns that Abby is Amish. Childhood memories flood in and he recalls leaving his home in a Pennsylvania Amish community to relocate here and parents’ anger and regular complaint that they were “chased away” by “closed minds and open mouths.” He has grown up with a distaste for the Amish, and his negative reaction to Abby is instinctive and noticeable.
Along with flood damage, Evergreen Corners has another problem. Local teens have begun bullying and harassing the teenaged Amish volunteers, and the project administrator for the town’s reconstruction calls Abby and David in to ask for their help. He proposes a formal teen volunteer organization with the aim of blending all the teens into a cohesive group. David and Abby both agree to lead the project, knowing they will need to bring the teens together, confront the bullies, and guide Mikayla through her grief, all the while working though their own differences and fighting a growing attraction.
The author deftly presents two spiritual themes throughout the story. The first focuses on the human tendency to blame ourselves for bad life outcomes over which we had little or no power. Both Abby and Mikayla see their pasts through the lens of their own youthful perspectives and harbor guilt as if they were wholly responsible for events in their pasts. Experience, time, and loving support help them acknowledge the involvement of other people and of other factors over which Abby and Mikayla had no control. The second theme is the guideline Abby lives by – show love to your enemies. Ms. Brown uses the bullies as an example of an ‘enemy’ who may respond better to kindness than to anger or hate.
The flow of the writing and the clarity of the conflicts and situations each character faces kept me reading. I enjoyed the portrayals of Abby’s optimism, kindness and love as contrasted with David’s measured reactions and unease around Mikayla; and the bullies and the hurt they inflict adds to the realism of the characters’ struggles and the story’s outcome. The thing that kept this book from a higher rating was my feeling that the story needed a little more emotional punch; it maintains a detached stance, despite the serious subjects.
However, the clear spiritual themes, the sweet romance, solid character portrayals, and the interweave of plot and romance all come together to raise this book above the average in the Love Inspired line. If you’re in the mood for a few hours of uplifting and pleasant entertainment, I recommend An Amish Easter Wish.