Sunday, June 16, 2013

Seasons of Grace Trilogy

by Beverly Lewis

Bethany House Publishers

The Secret

Grace Byler lives in Lancaster County, and her life is that of a typical Amish young woman. Yes, she's a little older than most girls to be still at home, but she has her mind set on a specific young man, and she's waiting patiently for him to ask her the big question. In the meantime, there have been some strange going-ons in the household. Her mother, Lettie, has taken to weeping into the stillness of the night, and going off on walks under the light of the moon after the family is asleep. After a month of strange behavior and growing aloofness, Grace's mother disappears into the night. The entire family is left reeling from the sudden departure of their mother, and nothing can be done to get her back. 

A young Englisher named Heather Nelson comes to stay for the summer at the neighbor's home, desperately trying to put her cancer diagnosis behind her. Terrified because her adoptive mother died pf cancer, she escapes to Amish country to clear her mind and her heart. Truly convinced she can beat her cancer naturally instead of doing chemo, she meets and befriends Grace at the local health food store. What kind of plans does God have for these two brokenhearted young women? Will Lettie ever return to her family? And will Heather find the healing for her body and soul? 

The Missing

Lettie Byler is still absent from her family, but she is no closer to finding what she seeks on her journey. Grace is convinced that her father Judah's uncommunicative, silent manner is what drove her Mamma away. Breaking things off with her now-serious beau, Grace seeks to find the answers to her mother's disappearance. Grace's grandparents are mysteriously mum about what could have caused their daughter to leave, and while Judah's heart breaks every day for his missing wife, Grace pulls the family together during the busiest time of the year, lambing season. 

Heather Nelson strikes up a quick friendship with Grace, and finally tells her of her grave diagnosis. Grace is supportive of Heather seeking natural, alternative methods before seeking conventional medicine. While Heather has lost her adoptive mother to death, Grace has lost hers to an unknown reason that she has yet to discover. The girls seek solace from each other's company, all the while seeking answers to their big questions. Is Lettie ever truly planning to return? Or has she run away for good? 

The Telling

When word arrives in Bird-In-Hand that Lettie Byler was spotted in Kidron, Ohio, Grace Byler makes a bargain with her father Judah, to go seek her mother and bring her back. His only stipulation was that she had to go with somebody, preferably not a sibling, so he could have help during the tail end of his lambing season. Heather Nelson graciously offers to drive Grace to Ohio and see if they can't find Lettie and bring her back to her family. 

In the meantime, Lettie is desperately trying to find answers to her own personal quest, and coming up woefully short. Every time she thinks she is closer to the truth, another door slams in her face. Finally spent and missing her family, Lettie makes plans to return home. But how will the brethren react to her mysterious disappearance and subsequent re-appearance? Will her family be able to forgive her and understand why she had to leave them for a time?

My Thoughts

While I found this story to be enjoyable and thoroughly entertaining, my only gripe was that it was somewhat repetitive. Yes, we know Heather is sick, yes, we know Lettie up and disappeared, and yes, we know it's not typical for Amish mothers to do that. We've also read multiple times that Judah is not a man of many words, and I understand the concept.

But all trivial things aside, this series kept me up all hours, reading way into the night, wondering what would happen to everyone in the end. I was actually taken by surprise at one point, because I didn't see a plot twist  coming and got completely blindsided by a major element in the story. While it wasn't the best of the best, it was a solid read, and well worth it. 

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