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The Outcast [Kindle Edition]

Jolina Petersheim
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (348 customer reviews)

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Book Description

*Library Journal's Best Books 2013*
*Christian Manifesto's 2013 Award Winner for Excellence in Amish Fiction*
*World Magazine's Notable Books*
*2013/2014 Christian Retailing's Best Finalist* 
*2014 INSPY Shortlist Author* 

Raised in an Old Order Mennonite community, Rachel Stoltzfus is a strong-willed single woman, content living apart from mainstream society until whispers stir the moment her belly swells with new life. Refusing to repent and name the partner in her sin, Rachel feels the wrath of the religious sect as she is shunned by those she loves most. She is eventually coerced into leaving by her brother-in-law, the bishop.

But secrets run deep in this cloistered community, and the bishop is hiding some of his own, threatening his conscience and his very soul. When the life of Rachel's baby is at stake, however, choices must be made that will bring the darkness to light, forever changing the lives of those who call Copper Creek home.

Editorial Reviews


"I have to say I've never been a fan of the Amish fiction genre. I'm still not. But Jolina Petersheim's The Outcast was the only Amish fiction book I've ever read from cover to cover." ~Ira Wagler, NYT Bestselling Author of Growing Up Amish

"A page-turning saga, The Outcast is a must read for anyone who has ever been judged by the shallow hearts of man." ~Julie Cantrell, New York Times Bestselling Author of Into the Free

"Surprising and satisfying, Jolina Petersheim's epic first novel of love and betrayal, forgiveness and redemption will resonate with people from every corner of life."
~River Jordan, Nationally Bestselling Author of Praying for Strangers: An Adventure of the Human Spirit

 "A story of hypocrisy and redemption in a secretive community that will keep the reader turning the pages." ~Michael Morris, award winning author of Man In The Blue Moon

"Petersheim's emotional story leaves readers intrigued by the purity or Rachel's strong will, resilience, and loyalty." ~Publisher's Weekly

"Petersheim sets a retelling of a classic piece of literature against the backdrop of bonnets and buggies...revealing the power of confession and God's willingness to forgive and restore." ~CBA Retailers + Resources

"The author's Plain background shines in this moving novel." ~RT Reviews, 4 Stars

"Petersheim makes an outstanding debut with this fresh and inspirational retelling of Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter. Well-drawn characters and good, old-fashioned storytelling combine in an excellent choice for Nancy Mehl's readers." Starred review (Library Journal)


A must-read that will draw you into a secretive world of sin and senselessness and leave you with the hope of one set free (Julie Cantrel, NYT bestselling author of Into the Free)

Product Details

  • File Size: 1659 KB
  • Print Length: 401 pages
  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (June 21, 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00AEB3C00
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #169,626 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A heartbreaking story of forgiveness June 28, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
First off, I read through many reviews of this book before actually reading it, so I was anticipating two specific occurrences: the use of the word 'bastard' and the scene in which the betrayal takes place. As a Christian as well as an avid reader of many different genres I can truly and honestly say...what in the world is the big deal? The 'b' word is used once toward the beginning and not in a particularly derogatory way. Considering that this book is meant as a modern retelling of The Scarlet Letter it would be more surprising if the word did not come up at least once. As for the betrayal scene I thought it came across as both believable and tastefully done considering what was actually happening. It was neither graphic nor drawn out. I don't see why any high school student or even mature middle schoolers should have a problem reading this book.

As for some people finding it difficult to read from a deceased character's perspective; I simply found that to be a unique way to introduce an omniscient perspective to the story. I personally had no problem with it. It didn't interfere with the flow of the story and I enjoyed the idea of Amos' role toward the end. But I don't want to give anything away...

Now. As for the story itself. Wow. Just really wow. I was involved from the very first page. This story did not at all read like an author's first novel. It was well paced and completely immersed me in a community that I know little about but was able to comprehend. I was amazed by the author's ability to move me through her words. I don't generally get emotional when I read but I had tears in my eyes over and over again. It is a story of how betrayal and tragedy reveals strength and turns into peace through forgiveness. Absolutely heartbreaking and beautiful.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down! June 17, 2013
The front cover of the book calls "The Outcast" "a modern retelling of The Scarlet Letter". I have never read "The Scarlet Letter" but I was familiar with the main story line of the story.
I don't know how closely "The Outcast" follows the story line of "The Scarlet Letter" or if Jolina Petersheim even intended it to.

I read the book in two days because I couldn't put it down! I found myself frustrated for Rachel and her plight and wishing for a resolution to her predicament. I rejoiced with her when she found the redemption that she desired.

Besides the main story line of Rachel's illegitimate son, other characters had issues and problems that they, too, needed to resolve and overcome. I really liked the depth of the characters and how they felt like real people that were your friends.

I found it interesting that the book was told in the first person point of view from Rachel at times and at times from the vantage point of Heaven told by the recently deceased bishop Amos King. It took a little getting used to this style, but it fit the story well.

I recommend this story to adults of all kinds! It was an easy book to read and I found it to be enjoyable.

I received a free copy of "The Outcast" by Jolina Petersheim from Tydale in exchange for my honest review. I did not receive any other form of compensation.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is one I couldn't put down! June 15, 2013
This story takes place in an Old Order Mennonite community in Tennessee. The story is told in first person by Rachel, the main character in the story and by her old bishop Amos King, now deceased. This was an unusual way to tell a story and some questionable theology involved, but very effective nonetheless. The story was a page turner. I never put it down till I finished it.

This book purports to be a "modern retelling of The Scarlet Letter." Since I don't remember a whole lot about that classic that I had to read at some point in school I didn't have a whole lot to compare here except public attitude, which is, I believe, a big part of The Scarlet Letter.

The characters here are very believable and all have an issue or story of their own which make them very interesting to the reader.

It involves adultery, cancer, twins, young love, loss and a myriad of other situations but surprisingly it all weaves into a very compelling story and does not lead you to the conclusion that the author had an overactive imagination to come up with so much trouble for everybody. I had that experience with another book I read recently but this one did not have that feeling to it at all.

Since the blurb that Amazon offers on this book is very appropriate to the story, I will not give away any plot by embellishing on it. I will just say that this author is one you will want to watch in the future!

I received a copy of this book from Tyndale for review. I did not receive any compensation for completing the review. All opinions are my own.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spell-binding story! June 16, 2013
On the front cover of the book, it says that this is "a modern retelling of The Scarlet Letter". I've never read that classic, but I do have a general idea what it was about, and it intrigued me to think about those themes in terms of an Old Order Mennonite community. It's not that I have any reason to believe that their lives are any different than ours, but I think of them as being much more private about what's happening. Maybe that's what made this such a great read - things weren't made clear from the start (unlike the way things are with the press for us in real life!), and you really had to follow along with the story for awhile to be able to recognize what had happened.

Once I got started reading, it was impossible for me to put this book down. I felt drawn in from the start, and like these were real people that I knew, and not just characters in a book. Each one had their own story with their own challenges - some were predictable, and some were a complete shock to find out about at the end. I liked the play on the names Rachel and Leah, the sisters who got caught in quite a tangled web in the Bible. It wasn't any less thrilling to read about the sisters in this book!

I appreciated that this book showed every side of the story(stories), and ultimately, proved what the power of redemption can do. It's a truly great book, and definitely makes me excited about reading more from this author!

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review - the thoughts and opinions expressed here are completely my own.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars What an emotional ride.
I laughed and cried and can truly say it was one of the best books in this genre that I have read. The pride and the blaming of anyone but ourselves is so evident. Read more
Published 21 days ago by L.L.Goss
4.0 out of 5 stars A sweet story
After reading The Midwife by this same author, I wanted to read this book. I was not disappointed. A sweet story that had a happy ending.
Published 25 days ago by Aubeysgram
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good book! I put off reading it for awhile ...
Very good book! I put off reading it for awhile cause it didnt look that great but, "dont judge a book by its cover" because it turned out to be suprisingly good!
Published 1 month ago by book lover!
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Great story
Published 1 month ago by marsha
3.0 out of 5 stars A Fun Read, but...
This was a fun read, but the comparison to The Scarlet Letter was almost laughable. While there are similarities, The Scarlet Letter is a beautifully written classic that has been... Read more
Published 2 months ago by aliceindandyland
5.0 out of 5 stars "A" is the letter I give the author
Honestly one of the best versions of "Scarlet Letter" I have read so far. Very well done. I will look for more from this author!
Published 3 months ago by moseylion
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read book that will draw you into a ...
A must read book that will draw you into a secretive world of sin and senselessness and than leave you with the hope of one set free.
Published 3 months ago by Mary I Link
4.0 out of 5 stars Well written
This book is not one I would have chosen ordinarily, but from the beginning the story unfolded in a clear and interesting story. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Hiker Girl
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
book in good condition.
Published 5 months ago by Charlene McGarvey
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book of forgiveness and redemption
This author is gifted in descriptive words, interesting plot progression and surprising twists. I was so taken with the characters and the mistakes made which were really sin. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Nettie
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More About the Author

Jolina Petersheim is the bestselling author of The Midwife and The Outcast, which Library Journal called "outstanding . . . fresh and inspirational" in a starred review and named one of the best books of 2013. She holds degrees in English and communication arts from the University of the Cumberlands, and her writing has been featured in venues as varied as radio programs, nonfiction books, and numerous online and print publications. Her blog is syndicated with The Tennessean's "On Nashville" blog roll, and she also blogs weekly with nine other bestselling authors at Southern Belle View. Jolina and her husband share the same unique Amish and Mennonite heritage that originated in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, but now live in the mountains of Tennessee with their young daughter. Follow Jolina and her blog at

Excerpt from Jolina's "About" page:

I was born on a hot August day in the heart of Amish country. While my family moved to Tennessee when I was only three years old, my childhood was filled with stories of Pennsylvania Dutch ancestors hiding TVs from bishops and concealing permed hair beneath kapps. But this unique heritage did not interest me. Instead, I pouted as my mother divided my waist-length hair into plaits and then forced me to change from purple overalls into a jean skirt and sneakers in preparation to visit our Plain friends--knowing, even at the tender age of six, that this combination was a fashion faux pas. Playing Hide 'n' Seek or Kick the Can with my Old Order Mennonite peers, however, I soon became grateful for that skirt, which helped me transition from Southern Englischer to intimate friend.

Years passed. I knew my Mennonite playmates had traded braided pigtails for kapped buns, yet on a visit to the community, I rebelled against my mother's instructions and arrived with unbound hair. During supper, which was eaten beneath a popping kerosene bulb, the hostess came and stood behind my portion of the bench. She slid out my blue satin ribbon and plaited my hair as I stared into my bowl of grummbeer supp accented with homemade brot.

The winter of my seventeenth year, I returned to the community to visit my once-raucous playmate whose ill health had transformed her into a soft-spoken friend. The whites of her deep brown eyes had yellowed from liver complications. Her family and my own gathered around her bed, which was heaped with spinning-star quilts, and sang hymns whose Pennsylvania Dutch words I did not know, but whose meaning struck my heart with such clarity, tears slid down my cheeks.

One week later, I stood beside her grave, wearing a thick black headband to hide my newly pierced ears with the fake diamond studs that stabbed the tender skin of my neck and gave me a migraine further magnified by jaw-clenching grief. I remember how the somber community huddled around her family as if their physical presence could shield them, not only from the slashing wind and sleet, but from the reality that their dochder and schweschder's body was about to be placed into the cold, hard ground.

I left for college that summer, almost eighteen years to the day I had been born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. I was the first person in my immediate family to attempt a higher education. As I unpacked my flared Lucky jeans and beaded sweaters into wobbling dorm drawers, I thought I was leaving my Mennonite heritage along with a certain broad-shouldered, hazel-eyed man whose father had attended my father's Mennonite high school.

Three years, one death, and two lifetimes' worth of tribulations later, I realized that I had not lost the precious attributes surrounding my Plain heritage, so much as I had needed to go away in order to find myself.

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