I enjoy a bit of Amish/Mennonite fiction now and then so I was pleased to read How the Light Gets in by Jolina Petersheim. I was sent a copy at no charge by TLC Book Tours for my honest review.
About How the Light Gets in:
Hardcover: 400 Pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (March 5, 2019)
“Compellingly woven by Jolina Petersheim’s capable pen, How the Light Gets In follows a trail of grief toward healing, leading to an impossible choice–what is best when every path will hurt someone?” –Lisa Wingate, New York Times bestselling author of Before We Were Yours
From the highly acclaimed author of The Outcast and The Alliance comes an engrossing novel about marriage and motherhood, loss and moving on.
When Ruth Neufeld’s husband and father-in-law are killed working for a relief organization overseas, she travels to Wisconsin with her young daughters and mother-in-law Mabel to bury her husband. She hopes the Mennonite community will be a quiet place to grieve and piece together next steps.
Ruth and her family are welcomed by Elam, her husband’s cousin, who invites them to stay at his cranberry farm through the harvest. Sifting through fields of berries and memories of a marriage that was broken long before her husband died, Ruth finds solace in the beauty of the land and healing through hard work and budding friendship. She also encounters the possibility of new love with Elam, whose gentle encouragement awakens hopes and dreams she thought she’d lost forever.
But an unexpected twist threatens to unseat the happy ending Ruth is about to write for herself. On the precipice of a fresh start and a new marriage, Ruth must make an impossible decision: which path to choose if her husband isn’t dead after all.
About the Author:
Jolina Petersheim and her husband share the same unique Amish and Mennonite heritage that originated in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, but they now live in the mountains of Tennessee with their three young daughters. Jolina’s fifth novel, How the Light Gets In, a modern retelling of Ruth set in a cranberry bog in Wisconsin, releases March 2019.
Connect with Jolina
Ruth and Chandler met while doing missionary work. He is a doctor like his father. They have a whirlwind marriage and almost immediately adopt a little girl. Soon after they have a daughter of their own. Chandler loves Ruth but he is a restless sort and needs to be out helping others so he leaves his small family and goes off with his dad to work at a hospital in Afghanistan. Ruth is left alone to care for two small children. And to worry.
Then comes word that both men have died in a bombing and Ruth and her mother in law return to the family cranberry farm to bury their men. Ruth and her girls find solace within the Mennonite community despite their being outsiders. She also finds herself drawn to Chandler’s cousin, Elam.
As they have nowhere else to go, they decide to stay on for a bit to get their bearings and Ruth and Elam find they have much in common. But Ruth doesn’t want to feel what she is feeling for another man – she and Chandler may have been having problems but she loved her husband. She and Elam take it slow but can’t deny the feelings they have for one another. Ruth’s mother in law is all for the burgeoning relationship – her son is dead and she wants Ruth and her granddaughters to be cared for and happy.
But what if Chandler were still alive?
That question fills the second half of the book and there is a very big twist that I did not see coming that was a delightful way to end this thought provoking novel on love, marriage and family. Ms. Petersheim takes her time in telling her story moving back and forth in time to show how Ruth and Chandler met, fell in love and married.
The relationship between Ruth and Elam also develops as might in real life. I fully understand the lightning that can hit when you find love. I agreed to marry my husband after 6 weeks of dating. The dual love stories are very different and both are treated as the unique tales that they are. Ruth is the center around which every other character spins and she is at once complex and very simple – she is a woman who wants to be loved for who she is.
This was a very enjoyable book to read despite the sad themes. It is, overall a love story and sometimes there is nothing quite so satisfying as a love story. All good ones have conflict for despite the desire for all things to go smoothly and easily. We know that life is not a fairy tale. I generally enjoy Amish/Mennonite fiction as it takes me back to the visits to Lancaster, Pa. I would make with my family and then my husband.
Overall a good read with real characters. A twist at the end that I did not see coming that turned the whole book upside down. It makes you rethink the whole story.
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How the Light Gets In releases on 3/5/19. You can preorder on Amazon.com
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