Overall, my impression of the book is that it has the potential to be middle-of-the-road Amish fiction if it wasn't written so carelessly. It's 10:00 p.m., I'm exhausted after a long day and dozing off while reading, and I'm still catching error after error. Surely a paid editor would pay close enough attention to the story to find the things I'm finding in my state of semi-consciousness! Also, there are several details that are inconsistent with most Amish practices that make the characters seem less than authentic.
First of all, on page 21, Sadie "cut the last piece of gingerbread", leaving the plate now empty. If one were to cut the last piece, there would actually be two pieces because the last piece had been cut. It makes more sense to say that Sadie, "took the last piece of gingerbread."
On page 33, "croppy" should be "crappie" since they are discussing fishing. A "croppy" is a late 18th Century term for an Irish insurrectionist.
On page 46, there is an incident mentioned about M.K. having "long conversations" with a dog that had a walkie-talkie hidden under his collar. How could M.K. have a two-way conversation over a walkie-talkie if she was not holding down the button on the device when talking back?
Concerning practices inconsistent with the majority of Amish communities, I understand that each community has it's own rules and some are stricter than others. However, it would lend a good deal of credence to Fisher's claim to knowledge of the Amish ways if she prefaced some out-of-the-norm things by saying something like, "even though many communities did not accept the use of _______, Julia's bishop had granted the local families permission to __________________."
For instance, the Lapp's refrigerator is a subject of much talk in these early pages. Since most Amish shun electricity, it would be wise for Fisher to either use some sort of explanatory sentence as I've suggested above or to just make it an ice box and eliminate the seemingly inconsistent idea. Another option would be for Fisher to explain that it is a gas-powered refrigerator. I suppose this may seem petty, but it's distracting...or maybe I'm just in a "mood". :)
Another thing that didn't fit with Amish customs, was the fact that everyone in Julia's life seemed to know about her relationship with Paul. It is very common for an "engaged" couple to keep their upcoming wedding plans a secret from even the closest family members until shortly before the wedding when their intentions are "published" for all the community to see. Not only did Julia's sister, Sadie, know about her "boyfriend", her little sister M.K. and her father knew as well. Then, to make it even less believable, Uncle Hank mentioned it when he came to visit.
I will also note that I had my suspicions about this story from the first time I saw the heavily made-up "Amish girl" on the cover. I suppose it's possible that the heavy eye makeup, blush and lipstick were okayed by her bishop. However, that is inconsistent with most Amish practices, and is actually inconsistent with the story itself. In the first couple of pages, this book's main character guiltily used a mirror to "vainly" check her face. Why would she feel so guilty about the vanity of checking herself in the mirror if she wore such a ridiculous amount of makeup to begin with?
As I said earlier, I really do think this book has the potential of being a moderately good Amish fiction story. It just needs some serious thought and care put into either explaining things that don't seem to line up, or researching the facts and writing truth. I've read a lot of Amish fiction and have studied the culture for about 10 years now. I'm no where near an expert, but I do feel like I'm wasting time with this story so I'll go ahead and find a new home for it.
Thank you to Baker Publishing Group for sending me a new copy to review. My opinions here are my own and have not been swayed by the fact that I was given a free copy of the book.
Suzanne is hosting a "honey of a giveaway"during the blog tour for The Keeper! During 1/3-1/17 you can enter to win an iPad2 from Suzanne and connect with her on January 17th at The Keeper Facebook Party!
During the giveaway one Grand Prize winner will receive a Prize Pack valued at $600:
- A brand new 16 KB iPad 2 with Wi-Fi
- A $25 gift certificate to iTunes
- A copy of The Keeper
RSVP early and tell your friends!
Don't miss a moment of the fun. RSVP today and tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 17th!
Here's some information from the publisher:
"A family. A farm. A heart. All in need of repair. Life on Windmill Farm hasn't been the same since Julia Lapp's father has had trouble with his heart. But that doesn't stop Julia from hoping for a bright future. She has planned on marrying Paul Fisher since she was a girl. Now twenty-one, she looks forward to their wedding with giddy anticipation. But when Paul tells her he wants to postpone the
wedding--again--she is determined to change his mind. She knows who is to blame for Paul's sudden reluctance to wed: the Bee Man. Roman Troyer, the Bee Man, travels through the Amish communities
of Ohio and Pennsylvania with his hives full of bees, renting them out to farmers in need of pollinators. A mysterious man who relishes his nomadic life, Roman especially enjoys bringing his bees to Stoney
Ridge each year. But with Julia seriously at odds with him, Windmill Farm is looking decidedly less appealing. Can Julia secure the future she's always dreamed of? Or does God have something else in mind?"
"The Keeper is a keeper. From a fabric of likable and original
characters, Suzanne has crafted a moving story of faith and loyalty, a
story of hope shining out of the darkest places. A captivating read."
--Dale Cramer, bestselling author, Levi's Will
Available January 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.