HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: The Return
Authors: Bob Hostetler and J. M. Hochstetler
Cover Designer: Maria Jackson
Publisher: Sheaf House Publishers, 2017
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Teens and adults
Rating: **** 4 stars (GOOD)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Hostetler, Bob, and Hochstetler, J. M. The Return (published in 2017 by Sheaf House Publishers, 1703 Atlantic Ave., Elkhart, IN 46514). This is Book Two of the Northkill Amish Series. In Book One, Northkill which takes place in 1757 during the French and Indian War, Jakob Hochstetler lives in the Northkill Amish community of the Pennsylvania Colony with his wife Anna, son Johannes who has married Katie, daughter Barbara who has married Crist Stutzman, and younger children Jake, Joseph, Christli, and baby Annali. Jakob’s refusal to take up arms against the Indians who attack his home on the Pennsylvania frontier during a brutal raid cost the lives of his wife and two of his children, Jake and Annali. Jakob and his younger sons are captured and carried away 0to Fort Presque Isle, where they are separated.
Jakob is taken to Buckaloons and enslaved by a Seneca widow named Sunshine, while different divisions of the Lenape adopt Joseph, age seventeen, to be the son of Menetopalis at Sauconk where he becomes Brings Dawn, and Christian, age thirteen, to be the son of Nutemau at Custaloga’s Town where he becomes Star Catcher. All of them struggle to adapt to new lives. Eventually, Jakob manages to escape in spite of overwhelming odds against succeeding. Can he survive a harrowing journey over the hundreds of miles of rugged terrain that lie between him and his Northkill community? Are his older son and daughter, Johannes and Barbara, and their families still alive? As the years pass, what happens to the two boys? Is it possible to find them? And if so will they even want to come home?
While this book is interesting and of course is needed to complete the story, I did not find it quite as exciting as the first volume. Some people might feel that the plot is a little hard to understand because it could be difficult keep track of what is going on. There are references to smoking tobacco and to Amish religious beliefs and practices. However, this fictionalized account is based on the true story of the authors’ ancestors, so there is a great deal of historical background for lovers of history. And even those who may not agree with Amish theology can appreciate their willingness to suffer for their faith. It is always encouraging to read about individuals who face their trials, along with the questions and doubts that those trials raise, with trust in God.