Apr 30, 2012

An Amish Family Reunion by Mary Ellis

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.

Eli’s kindness and appeal extend beyond his knack for words to reach inside Phoebe’s heart. But he is an only son with five sisters, and when his father suffers a heart attack, Eli gives up his writing to assume responsibility on the farm. Though willing to abandon his dream of becoming an author, he won’t give up his beloved Phoebe.

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?

Mary Ellis is the author of many books, including A Widow's Hope, Sarah's Christmas Miracle, and A Marriage for Meghan. She and her husband live in central Ohio, where they try to live a simpler style of life.

Visit the author's website at http://maryellis.net/

An Amish Family Reunion has a sweet yet realistic tone to it. The characters are not the same as found in most typical Amish novels. Some of them hold regular jobs, live in non-Amish communities, and yet they still maintain their traditional Amish dress and beliefs. I found this entirely believable and could easily relate to the struggles they had. The Miller family is quite large, and I was glad to see a character list for reference when I couldn't quite figure out who everyone was.

Phoebe and Eli were similar in many ways, and while on a Rumspringa outing to Niagara Falls, they quickly formed a bond of friendship that would test their faith and their feelings for each other. I loved how their relationship developed over time as they met each week at the local library and worked on their joint project.

While Phoebe and Eli are the main characters of this story, I was drawn to the matriarch of the family ... Grandma Julie. She missed her adult children and their spouses and especially her grandchildren. She planned a month long vacation/family reunion, and demanded that everyone come home to the family farm. They all came home, and each couple had their own problems or issues to deal with.

I wished there would have been more details on the relationship between Phoebe and Eli, but maybe that will come in the next book? Overall, this was a very enjoyable read ... and a refreshing change from the typical Amish fictional novel.

Disclosure: Book received courtesy of the author in exchange for my honest review.

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