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The Shunning (The Heritage of Lancaster County #1) Paperback – February 1, 2008
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The bestselling story of Katie Lapp, who longs for things forbidden to a young Amish woman. But an unexpected discovery reveals her true past.
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I'll be reading more of Lewis's books in the future!
The next two books are worth reading because of the developing character of Katie's best friend Mary who turns out to be a person of integrity and love and loyalty.
It was a pretty basic fiction book. Nothing too deep or difficult to read. The characters were basically developed, but not very detailed. I did not feel very connected to any of them.
The main character is an Amish girl who is supposed to marry a Bishop. She is baptized in the church, but does not feel like she fits in. She was engaged before, but the boy passed away. The story is of her struggle with her feelings with her dead fiance and trying to fit into the community while deep down she wants more.
The main reason I'm giving this 3 stars is for the ending. Yes, I realize it's a trilogy, however, to leave an ending hanging like that is not acceptable to me. Lewis introduced new information with little to no resolution of characters pages before the ending, just so the reader has to go out and get the next book. This technique has always felt wrong to me. I will not be buying the next books for my Kindle, but I will check them out of the library :)
The story involves an Amish community in the Lancaster, PA, area, in particularly, a young woman named Katie, who is engaged to be married but having trouble with the engagement and with being Amish. One of the primary problems she encounters is the rule about music -- only songs from an ancient volume of hymns are permitted. She has a forbidden guitar given to her by her deceased boyfriend and likes to hum songs they made up together, or even songs from the outside "English" world. Her attempts to conform are increasingly stressful to her, which puzzles her and her fellow Amish. Her family and community dosn't know what to do with her (you can guess from the title where this problem is headed).
The book ends with the situation set up for the next book in this three-volume series -- you almost wonder why they didn't combine these into a single book.
I enjoyed the imaginary trip into the world of the Amish. In my research, I learned that the Amish are really a collection of basically Mennonite churches with stricter rules than the rest of the Mennonites: they follow the traditions strictly, which is why they are called Old Order Amish. They have a greater desire to live apart from people not of their faith community than Mennonites do, but each Amish community has different rules they follow. What happens in this book may be true for this community, but another community might have dealt with it in another way.
If you have no interest in the Amish or reading a book where emotions are tightly controlled and conflict is often concealed, this book probably isn't going to be your cup of tea.
I really enjoyed reading this. There were a few things that don't make a lot of sense plot-wise that made me with the author had been more careful about that. For example, we are told several times that at 22, Katie was considered to be close to the age where she'd never find a husband, and yet the man she is to be married is said to have waited three years to marry her. Her boyfriend drowned some time previously to the story's beginning, and it's clear Katie's fiance has been widowed for a while -- so why has the man been waiting three years for this, particularly since he's clearly in a hurry.
It was also unclear to me why a community so focused on avoiding sinful behavior and which emphasizes community so much does not seem to be bothered by hurtful gossiping. You'd think avoiding that would be among the rules of right behavior! On the other hand, having people gossiping about Katie was a major part of the stress she and her family experience. While this very communal Amish world seemed very cozy in many ways (no-one seems lonely, ever), this complete lack of privacy and pressure to conform helped me understand what would be unpleasant about living this way (aside from lack of modern conveniences like electricity), so unpleasant that some people leave despite the great loss this involves.