Friday, November 19, 2010

Growing Forgiveness Book Review: Rachel’s Garden

There’s something I really like about books set in Amish country.  Maybe it’s how real the characters’ struggles are, or grace and peace fill the books. 

True, every Amish-set book has the same themes in it: young people working through their Rumspringa and someone choosing to leave and winding up under the ban; a death caused by a car colliding with a buggy; a death caused by a barn collapsing; and people resisting the love God has planned for them.  It does get redundant and a little predictable, but I still enjoy a romp through Dutch Pennsylvania every once in awhile.

rachel's gardenMy most recent romp was via Rachel in Rachel’s Garden by Marta Perry.  Rachel is a widow whose husband died when a barn collapsed.  Her husband’s best friend, a widower whose wife died when a car hit his buggy, is determined to build Rachel the greenhouse her husband had promised her.

From the beginning of the book, it’s apparent to everyone except Rachel and the widower that God intends for the two of them to be together.  And no, I haven’t ruined anything; it’s apparent to the reader, too.   The book is a gentle ramble through Rachel’s life as she and the widower figure this out.  There’s a few other little conflicts along the way that I won’t get into; those are the real surprises.

For those who are wondering about the missing standard theme, Rachel’s twin brother has left the Amish to become an Englisher and is under the ban.  I’m under the impression that happened in the first book of this series.

The best part of this book was a simple piece of wisdom given to Rachel by her pastor (I’m paraphrasing, not quoting):

When you’re struggling to forgive someone, just treat them the way you would if you had already forgiven them; then forgiveness will come.  

So clear, so straightforward.  Not always the easiest thing to do, but once you do, it makes your life easier.  The story itself was sweet and a nice temporary break from life, but in my mind it will always be a great book just because of that piece of wisdom.  Act like you’ve already forgiven.

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