HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: An Amish Gift: A Novel
Author: Cynthia Keller
Jacket illustrator: Tom Hallman
Publisher: Ballantine Books, 2012
Related websites: http://www.cynthiakeller.com (author), http://www.ballentinebooks.com (publisher)
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Ages 13 and up
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Keller, Cynthia. An Amish Gift: A Novel (published in 2012 by Ballentine Books, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House Inc., New York City, NY). Jennie Davis has lived in Lawrence, MA, with her husband Shep, a former football star who has had trouble holding a job, and their two teenage children, Tim and Willa. Jennie’s own older sister Hope abandoned her family upon graduation and just disappeared, leaving teenage Jennie to care for their alcoholic and abusive mother until the latter’s death. Now, when Shep loses his latest job, they pack up and move to beautiful Lancaster County, PA, where Shep has inherited a vacant house from a distant cousin, along with the cousin’s old bicycle shop. While walking the dog in the mornings, Jennie forges a friendship with her Amish neighbor, Mattie Fisher.
However, the Davis family continues to struggle financially. Jennie’s attempt to help out by embarking upon a candy-making enterprise collides with Shep’s growing stress at work, and long-simmering tensions between husband and wife rise to the surface. Also, the kids are having trouble adjusting to their new environment. In addition, the dog is hit by a car and requires some three thousand dollars of veterinarian’s care, and Tim is involved in an automobile accident with Peter Fisher. Will the Davises be able to solve their difficulties, or will this move result in the end of their family? My wife Karen enjoys reading books set among the Amish people. This one sounded good, so I decided to read it as well. Cynthia Keller is also the author of An Amish Christmas and A Plain and Fancy Christmas.
There is very little objectionable in this tale. The Davises don’t appear to be a religious family, but the Fishers are faithful to their Amish beliefs. Shep tends to drink a lot of beer at first to drown some of his sorrows, the attitudes of Tim and Willa are both fairly rotten to begin with, and even Jennie has to struggle with some serious emotional issues, but in the end they all learn some important lessons and everything seems to work out for the best. No, the Amish aren’t perfect, but it’s nice to read a novel in which neighbors help each other and people who have problems deal with them based upon the accepted traditional values which have generally characterized our society for many generations. An Amish Gift is a feel-good story that I enjoyed very much.