Wednesday, October 13, 2010

‘The Waiting’ by Suzanne Woods Fisher – Book Review

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One of my favorite book genres is Amish fiction. I have been an admirer of the Amish culture since I was a child. The latest book I have read, ‘The Waiting’ by Suzanne Woods Fisher, gives me more insight (albeit fictional) into their world.

Here is the synopsis of this book:

She was waiting for love – and found it in the most unexpected places. Jorie King’s life is on hold. She has been waiting for Ben Zook to return to Lancaster County. Waiting for him to settle down and join the church. Waiting to marry him.
But when news arrives that Ben has been killed, Jorie is devastated. She finds unlikely comfort in the friendship of his brother Caleb. Friendship ripens into love, and two broken hearts plan for a life filled with the promise of a fresh beginning – until their worlds are turned upside down.
With her realistic characters whose weaknesses develop into strengths, Suzanne Woods Fisher offers a reading experience that rises above the others. You will love growing in spirit with these complex people living the simple life as The Waiting transports you into a world where things aren’t as simple as they seem.

Here is the biography of this author:

Suzanne Woods Fisher is the author of The Choice, the first book in the Lancaster County Secrets series. Her grandfather, W.D. Benedict, was raised in the Old Order German Baptist Brethren Church in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Her interest in living a simple, faith-filled life began with her Dunkard cousins.
Suzanne is also the author of Amish Peace: Simple Wisdom for a Complicated World, a finalist for the ECPA Book of the Year award, and Amish Proverbs: Words of Wisdom from the Simple Life. She is the host of “Amish Wisdom,” a weekly radio program on She lives with her family in the San Francisco Bay area and raises puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. To Suzanne’s way of thinking, you just can’t take life too seriously when a puppy is tearing through your house with someone’s underwear in its mouth.

Here is an excerpt from the audiobook version of this wonderful book:

This book is set in 1965, at the peak of the Vietnam War. One of the main characters in this book, Benjamin Zook, is deployed there – despite the fact that the Amish do not believe in war and are usually classified as conscientious objectors. Benjamin has always had a bit of a rebellious and adventurous streak, so he took advantage of the opportunity to travel outside of his community and his hemisphere.

I really was intrigued by how Suzanne handled the issue of war in general and its effect on the psyche of a person, and how he or she can be rehabilitated back into society. The love of a family is often more effective than what the medical industry can come up with – and such was the case  in one of the storylines in this book.

I also loved how each character in this book is unique. Often when you read Amish fiction, the characters are one-dimensional. In this story, the characters are multi-dimensional, and they are just as flawed as the rest of us. That is a comfort to me. In the past, I have placed the Amish on a pedestal, expecting that they have less stresses than those of us on the outside – ‘The English,’ as they call us. But Suzanne shows that they are just as human as we are.

A subplot in this book is the arrival of a new veterinarian in the community – one who happened to be African-American. Again, this book’s setting is 1965, at the height of the Civic Rights movement. Several of ‘The English’ in the community were not too happy about his and his family’s arrival, and the hardware store owner, Ron Harding, approached Cal to try to get the Amish to their way of thinking:

“All that I wanted to say is that you folks have enjoyed your way of living out here, set apart, and able to mind your own business. We want to keep things that way. But there’s a fellow trying to buy a house in this town. He’s not our kind of man. If he buys in Stoney Ridge, we’ll all lose. Others will be coming in right behind him. That’s the way it works with those people. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. Our land values drop and before you know it, we’re looking like Philly or Camden. No townsfolk will sell to him, I made sure of that. So I’m thinking he might try next to find something out in the country. So I’d like you to talk to your people and make sure no one sells to him.”
Cal looked at Ron Harding as if he was speaking Chinese.
“A fellow named James Robinson.”
“The veterinarian that’s buying Doc Williams’s practice?” Cal asked. “We need a good vet. Doc Williams said he’s never seen a young vet as capable as James Robinson.”
Ron snorted. “Well, we don’t need that one.”
Cal looked at him, puzzled.
“This one is a colored man.” (pp. 45-46)

Suzanne is not afraid to tackle two of the most divisive issues in the United States in the 1960s – the Vietnam Conflict and the Civic Rights movement – and she handles each of them with compassion and dignity.

Another thing I loved about this book is the godly example of Caleb Zook. Here is an exchange between him and his brother, Matthew:

          “Cal, we all count on you. Who do you count on?”
Cal’s eyes turned to the ridgeline that defined Stoney Ridge. “‘I will lift mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.’ If the Lord God is wise enough to manage this world, he knows enough to help me through these troubles.” (p. 69)

This book has several love stories of different varieties (agape love and filial love, for example). I found all instances to be true to life and heartfelt.

I have had the pleasure of reading two books by Suzanne - Book One in the Lancaster County Secrets’ series, ‘The Choice’ (you can read my review here) and ‘Amish Proverbs’ (you can read that review here). I love the Amish community and I love Suzanne’s writing style, so I was not surprised by how much I loved ‘The Waiting’! This book stands alone from 'The Choice,' so the first book does not need to be read prior to reading this book. However, I heartily recommend that you read both books at some point in time!

I will always have a special place in my heart for the Amish. In fact, one of my longtime dreams came true earlier in the year when I was able to purchase an Amish quilt sampler, which hangs right next to my bed (if anyone knows the names of the quilt patterns, I would love to know!). That beautiful handiwork reminds me of their simple way of life, and, at the same time, how hard they work. Judging Suzanne by her heritage, it is clear to me that hard work can be genetic! I thank Suzanne for once again writing a terrific book celebrating the Amish and their faith in God.

The next book in the 'Lancaster County Secrets' series is 'The Search,' which will be available from Revell on January 1, 2011. 2011 can't come soon enough for me; what a way to celebrate the New Year! This book cover alone would draw me to read it - never mind the fact that it is another Suzanne Woods Fisher title! 

Please accept my apologies for gushing! :  )

You can order this book here.

Available October 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. This book was provided by Revel for review purposes.


Suzanne said...

Oh Andrea...I have tears in my eyes as I read your review. You should be writing a book of your own!!! You have such a beautiful way with words. Thank you for reading my book so thoroughly, and finding so much "takeaway value" in it. That's exactly what I want my books to leave readers with...the awareness that there's a better way! The Lord's way! I'll stop gushing!
About your quilt...I may be wrong, but I think you have three variations of the star (see the center? Same star in each one), and one pinwheel!
If you want me to, I could ask my FB friends if they know, for sure!
Thanks again, Andrea. Warmly, Suzanne

Andrea Schultz said...

Hi Suzanne -
Now you have me all choked up! We definitely have a Mutual Admiration Society going on!
Thanks for the kind words and the confidence in my writing ability. Who knows what the Lord has in store for the future?!
I would love to have more info on my sampler. There is definitely a distinct pattern there! Please ask your informed FB friends!
Blessings & many thanks -

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