Author: Suzanne Woods Fisher
Series: The Bishops Family #3
Release Date: October 4, 2016
Reviewer: Jennifer S. Roman
The latest installment of the Bishop’s Family focuses on the message that we need to give freely even we do not have that much to give. Bishop David Stoltzfus has noticed that even though his community has become prosperous, something is missing. People are not as available as they used to be; they are bending some fundamental rules; and volunteerism has fallen. Just recently, a barn-raising had to be rescheduled because the materials order was not placed and there were not enough hands available for assistance. While he is dealing with his community’s issues, his daughter Ruthie tries to reconcile her feelings for Luke Schrock. She thinks she loves him, but she knows he is the town troublemaker. Any time she opens up to him, he does something to hurt her. To take her mind off of Luke, she decides to tutor newcomer Patrick Kelly in Pennsylvania Dutch because Patrick wants to join the Amish. David’s sister Ruth, who has left the Amish to become a doctor, moves to Stoney Ridge to open a practice that caters to the Amish. So many things happening at once are sure to cause plenty of changes at the Amish community, some for the better, and some not.
As is typical of the previous two books in this series, Woods Fisher writes a story about a member of the core family, in this case the bishop’s family, and throws in some other characters and their stories. She has developed the characters from the very beginning; in fact, many characters come from her other series. New characters are added to provide more interest, and some move away once their story is told. I’ve enjoyed her books so far, and this one was no exception. There is usually someone struggling with a moral dilemma, and in this case, it’s the bishop himself. David notices that his parishoners are becoming complacent and even selfish, as they are not there to help and minister to one another as they have in the past. He notices that they are giving a lot less even though they have more; in the past, when they had less, they gave more freely. He has to come up with a way to address this without creating fractions within the community.
The book is written in a fairly simple style, yet the characters and plotlines are well-developed. It’s easy to conjure up a mental image of the community and the people, and that’s the fun of it. While I can’t personally see myself in exactly the same situation because I am not Amish, I can definitely relate the message to my daily life. Readers can easily come away with an important life lesson, yet it is entertaining and not preachy. The characters face many of the same struggles as we in the Englisch world do, and it’s interesting to see how they handle them.
This latest work from Suzanne Woods Fisher is heartwarming, uplifting, and entertaining. I enjoyed reading about her characters and their dilemmas, and believe that other fans of Christian or Amish fiction will as well. There is a nice mixture of romance, personal struggle, and acceptance that make it an engaging read. While there is mention of alcohol abuse and some mild violence, I believe this book can be safely enjoyed by mature teens and older readers.