Tuesday, March 13, 2012

An Amish Family Reunion, by Mary Ellis

Overview (from NetGalley): During a rumschpringe visit to Niagara Falls, Phoebe Miller meets Eli Riehl, a young man who charms her—and everyone else—with his exceptional storytelling ability. When Phoebe sketches scenes to illustrate one of his tales, Eli encourages her incredible talent, and together they embark on a lofty and unlikely business venture for two young Amish people—writing and illustrating a children’s book.
Can their love for a good story develop into something that lasts forever, or will Phoebe’s deep-seated fear of desertion stand in their way? 

Review: This book is part of a series, which I did not know, but it can stand alone. However, be advised that there are a lot of characters and, if you haven't read the previous books, it might be a bit confusing at times. But, although that can be a little distracting, it doesn't take away from the enjoyment of this nicely written book.
There are many themes woven together like a fine quilt: marital problems due to lack of effective communication, loneliness, fear, jealousy, among others. But aside form the many themes and the many characters, Phoebe and Eli emerge as the true leads in the story. She is a girl who keeps to herself, loves to be alone with her thoughts and her tablet to paint, but at the same time, she longs for something more, something more exciting, a new inspiration for her paintings.
And along comes Eli, whom I loved. He is unique; very outspoken, well read (something apparently not too Amish like) and somewhat fearless. He has big dreams, and Phoebe starts dreaming with him. The two are made for each other. And you wish to know more, to dig deeper into their relationship, but this is where the story is lacking. The reader is left wanting more, and not in a good way. We see Phoebe meet Eli (the Niagara Falls part is really good), and it's obvious they like each other, but then, instead of watching their story develop, we cut to Leah, and then Mathew, and later on Emma, and a few characters later we go back to Phoebe and Eli but already a few weeks have gone by. And this presents a problem because as you get interested in one story, the author cuts to a different one. And I understand that this novel is about the family per se, but when the selling point is Phoebe and Eli's story, and it certainly is a cute and sweet story, then the reader needs to spend more time with them, and it would have been better if the author cut back a little bit on the others, so not only we could see more of Phoebe and Eli, but we could understand better their thought process, their feelings and their decisions.
That said, the fact is that it is a good, enjoyable novel that in the end celebrates the importance of family and remaining close no matter the distance.
3 1/2 stars out of 5

*I received a copy of this book from Harvest House Publishers through NetGalley in exchange of an honest review.

No comments:

Post a Comment