Author: Jan Drexler
Series: Journey to Pleasant Prairie #3
Release Date: June 6, 2017
Reviewer: Jennifer S. Roman
The third and final installment in the Journey to Pleasant Prairie series finds a newcomer, Cap Stoltzfus, joining the two groups of Amish who have arrived in LaGrange County, Indiana, in the 1840s. One group is from Ohio, and one group is from Pennsylvania. Although one group is considered more progressive than the other, they live and work together across a wide area separated by marsh and forest. They make miles-long treks on Sundays for church services and during the week to help their neighbors with chores. Cap finds himself settling in nicely, and is especially happy when he meets Naomi Schrock, a single girl who lives with her family and son near Cap’s new cabin. She has rescued a young boy whose family perished in a deadly storm, and even though her neighbors accept it, some people gossip that the boy, Davey, is the product of a sinful relationship. Cap is determined to get to know Naomi while finding out the truth of Davey’s coming to live with Naomi.
Meanwhile, a new preacher has arrived in the settlement, and he brings back horrible memories for Cap. Shem Fischer used to bully Cap when they were boys, and while Cap does his best to forgive Shem and put that experience in the past, he can’t help but feel that Shem is stirring up trouble throughout the settlement. Rumors fly, people refuse to help one another, and there is talk of breaking the church into two different sects. Shem seems to be behind all of it, but Cap has no proof. It’s up to the other members of the church to see Shem for his bad behavior and keep him in check.
I have enjoyed the first two books in this series, so I was excited to read the final book, as well. I have to admit that I had no idea there could be such Peyton Place-like drama playing out in an Amish settlement in the middle of Indiana, but after reading this book, it’s a whole new possibility. People are quarreling over where to hold church, how to plant and harvest crops, and what to serve for Sunday dinner. Married people have their eyes on someone other than their spouses, and rumors fly like birds. This is probably not typical of the average Amish settlement, but in this book, it was quite common. While the Amish are not immune to drama and conflicting personalities, it seems like this is an awful lot for a small new community.
I enjoyed the characters this book has, including the many newcomers. Several main characters and side characters have personal conflicts that need to be addressed, and they realize that until they give them up to God, the issues won’t go away. This causes stress in a few relationships, and the people involved learn how to work together instead of apart. There are many lessons for the characters to earn, the biggest being to trust God above all others. While some of the drama may be a bit over-the-top, the storylines and true commitment to living a simple life make the book a worthwhile read.
This is a charming book that does not contain violence, sex, or foul language. For this reason, I recommend this book for young adult readers and up. Fans of Amish fiction, Amish romance, or a good clean story about the settling of America will enjoy the story.