Wanda Brunstetter, A Sister’s Secret (2007)

In this dark time where horror strikes where people thought their children would be safe, I feel the need to talk about a gentle book, not about a murder mystery which would feel so pointless to my wounded heart. So no violence tonight, even in literary terms and with the sense of closure that resolution and condemnation brings, while parents are denied this comfort in real life.

I bet regular readers of this blog will be surprised that I ended up reading an Amish novel (not written by an Amish obviously, but by a Christian writer who puts all her stories in this community). It surprised me too! A month ago, I didn’t even know that such a niche market existed in the literary landscape, but then, why not?

My knowledge about Amish was quite limited up to a few months ago (especially, I insist, as I am not a religious person and not living in the US), but then I watched a documentary from National Geographic about young Amish doing their rumspringe discoveries in England (before being baptized) and I was truly awed. So when I discovered by chance that Amish novels existed, I gave it a try and am rather glad I did. It was like visiting another planet.

My expectations were not very high because I never read Christian novels or romantic ones. Dialogues were rather stiff and the many repetitions whenever a character used a Dutch word are clumsy (I guess the author should provide a glossary at the end of the book and be done with it, instead of having the characters translate each other words, which is weird). But characters were rather less one-dimensional that I’d feared and there was a real suspense. The basic problem I encountered is that this is only the first book in a series and lots of plot lines are left unresolved at the end of this one, which is  frustrating when you don’t know it beforehand.

That said, I don’t think I will read the follow-up, but I’m rather thankful of the chance to read such an exotic and relaxing novel for me.

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6 thoughts on “Wanda Brunstetter, A Sister’s Secret (2007)

  1. This is exactly the kind of novel that I steer clear of — which is why I am glad that I read your post today. Several years ago, my book group read a book about a Mennonite doctor who served the Menno & Amish communities in Ohio. I shredded the book when I talked about it in the group because it was so horribly in need of an editor. I said it was like being stuck with someone’s old, drunk, lonely uncle at a family event and having to listen to oft-repeated tales in a non-coherent chronology. BUT, I have thought about that book so many times in the years since then. Not because of the poor writing and editing, but because of the stories and insights it gave me to the Amish who live in areas near me. I guess I was the unappreciative teen listening to that uncle who had more wisdom than I gave him credit for. There are several Amish at the Farmers’ Markets I frequent in the summer months. They don’t mingle with outsiders but they are always honest, kind and humble with their customers. They seem very industrious but I rarely see them smiling. I wonder if it is because we seem like aliens from a different planet to them as well.

  2. Glad you enjoyed the book. It is odd to hear the Amish called exotic because they are familiar especially to those who live in the midwestern US. But from outside, I can see how they are a bit exotic so thanks for that bit of perspective!

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