Mending Fences—the title could have meant anything, but I suspected it would be about the more psychological rather than the physical side of the saying. She picked up the book and eyed it with a skeptical look on her face. “They’re all the same—or at least, they start feeling like it.”
Look, she made a point. It’s an argument you see in book discussion groups. Still, I pointed out Suzanne Woods Fisher. “Her Anna’s Crossing series isn’t the same-old, same-old. I mean, historical Amish. That’s a neat twist.”
“Yeah… I guess.”
If I’m honest with myself, she was just saying things I’ve often thought. It’s why when the book came up for review, despite being by an author I’ve enjoyed, I almost didn’t request one.
When you like someone’s work, you want to keep liking it.
Then she said something else. “Is Amish fiction on the way out?”
That got me thinking about all those discussions I’ve seen—the ones defending anything with a buggy or a bonnet. The ones criticizing anything with that buggy or bonnet. To listen to some, if Amish fiction isn’t “on the way out,” it should be. To others, the world might as well stop spinning if we can’t have a good Amish romance from time to time.
Then there’s folks like me—not quite ready to say there’s never a place for it but also not the first to grab the latest offering. Or the fiftieth. Not even the hundredth.
Just keepin’ it real.
Last night I read Mending Fences, and I think I have an answer to that question.
Is Amish Fiction On The Way Out?
Confession time: I didn’t read the synopsis. I just clicked and asked for a review copy when it came up and took a chance that I’d like it.
The first page offered me something I hadn’t seen before. An Amish kid just out of rehab. For the third time.
That said, Ms. Fisher did a fabulous job of making me despise the main character. I couldn’t stand him. For the curious, that’s a good thing. We’re not supposed to like him. Not at first.
This book took me a little bit to get into. Seeing Luke flounder and throw his pity parties, seeing him play the victim card after he’d victimized so many people—it was a tough sell when we’re supposed to like him eventually.
I wasn’t sure that “eventually” would ever come.
I should not have doubted.
In Luke Schrock, Ms. Fisher has created a well-rounded, delightfully flawed character. His lack of perfection only adds to that perfection. So, that stereotype of Amish fiction where the readers complain of too-perfect characters?
Yeah, you won’t find that in this book.
The plot of Mending Fences is a gem as well.
Look, I shouldn’t have liked it. I mean, when you break it down to its simplest form, the book is like a post-rehab playbook. Confess your wrongs. Ask forgiveness. Make amends. Seriously, I thought it would get old. It should have. I’ve read other fiction recently that did turn it into a fictionalized “how-to” story.
Ms. Fisher didn’t. She made me care about each story. She made me love the characters and appreciate that our actions have consequences that we cannot possibly imagine. That’s pretty awesome in my book.
I did have a couple of small quibbles.
First, I think it might need another pass with a proofreader. My copy doesn’t say that it’s an advance reader copy. There’s not a thing to indicate it isn’t the final. And so for those who are bothered by typos, there are enough that I noticed and remembered several of them. They didn’t affect my rating at all, but I thought I’d note it.
My biggest quibble, however, is one of the plot points. It just got way too coincidental for my taste. The first was nice. The second a surprise-twist. But then the next, and the next, and… yeah. Too much.
Still, I really enjoyed the book, and I’ll probably read the next in the series.
So yeah… you know what?
I don’t think Amish fiction is on the way out, and if Amish authors keep writing stuff like this one, I think that’s a good thing.
Mending Fences is on tour with Celebrate Lit.
Note: some links are affiliate links that provide me with a small commission at no extra expense to you.
About the Book
Book: Mending Fences
Author: Suzanne Woods Fisher
Genre: Christian fiction, Amish, Mennonite
Release Date: February 5, 2019
Every saint has a past. Every sinner has a future.
Luke Schrock is a new and improved man after a stint in rehab, though everyone in Stoney Ridge only remembers the old Luke. They might have forgiven him, but nobody trusts him. He has been allowed to live at Windmill Farm under two conditions. First, he must make a sincere apology to each person he’s hurt. Second, he must ask each victim of mischief to describe the damage he caused.
Simple, Luke thinks. Offering apologies is easy. But discovering the lasting effects his careless actions have caused isn’t so simple. It’s gut-wrenching.
And his list keeps growing. Izzy Miller, beautiful and frustratingly aloof, also boards at Windmill Farm, and Luke’s clumsy efforts to befriend her only insult and annoy her. Eager to impress, Luke sets out to prove himself to her by locating her mother. When he does, her identity sends shock waves through Stoney Ridge.
About the Author
Suzanne Woods Fisher is an award-winning, bestselling author of more than two dozen novels, including the Nantucket Legacy, Amish Beginnings, The Bishop’s Family, and The Inn at Eagle Hill series. She is also the author of several nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace and The Heart of the Amish.
She lives in California. Learn more at www.suzannewoodsfisher.com and follow Suzanne on Facebook @SuzanneWoodsFisherAuthor and Twitter @suzannewfisher.
More from Suzanne
A Friend in Need
“A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.” –Walter Winchell
Luke Schrock was nearly friendless. He returned to Stoney Ridge in Mending Fences after a stint in rehab only because his bishop, David Stoltzfus, strongly encouraged him. And everybody knows you didn’t say no to your bishop.
But nobody else in town wanted anything to do with Luke. They forgave him for the trouble he’d caused in his last downward spiral, the one that went too far. The one that even scared Luke. Forgiving him was the easy part. The Amish of Stoney Ridge were intentional forgivers. It was their trust—that’s what he would have to earn. Trust was a fragile thing. Once broken, it wasn’t easily mended.
Somehow, David was still able to look past the behavior to see the best of Luke Schrock. He didn’t stop there. He found a family who was willing to take Luke in, and he spent hours with him—at times as a mentor, at times as a father figure, but mostly as a friend.
A loyal friend can have a powerful impact.
Consider those friends in the town of Capernaum, who carried their paralyzed friend to Jesus for healing—so determined to get to Him that they dragged his stretcher up onto a roof, broke through the roof tiles, and lowered him down. Can you imagine being in the crowd, listening to Jesus, as straw and tile pieces and branches and bugs started to drop down from the ceiling? A shocking display…of devoted friendship. And what a miraculous outcome for that paralyzed man!*
I won’t tell you how Luke’s story ends—only that he works hard to find ways to make amends to those he hurt, to regain trust. Especially the hard-to-earn trust of a brown-eyed beauty named Izzy.
Do you have a real friend like David Stoltzfus, who walks in when the rest of the world has walked out? Or maybe the better question, for you, for me, is to ask ourselves if we are friends to others like David Stoltzfus was to Luke Schrock. I know I want to be.
*This miracle is reported in three gospels: Mark 2:1-12, Matthew 9:1-8, Luke 5:17-26.
The Power of Words, March 4
The Avid Reader, March 4
Quiet Quilter, March 5
CarpeDiem, March 5
Among the Reads, March 6
Girls in White Dresses, March 6
A Reader’s Brain, March 6
Blossoms and Blessings, March 7
Jeanette’s Thoughts, March 7
Southern Gal Loves to Read, March 7
Bigreadersite, March 8
Blogging With Carol, March 8
Eat, Read, Teach, Blog, March 8
God’s Little Bookworm, March 9
Just the Write Escape, March 9
Splashes of Joy, March 10
EmpowerMoms, March 10
Christian Chick’s Thoughts, March 11
Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, March 11
Locks, Hooks and Books, March 11
Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, March 12
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, March 12
Vicky Sluiter, March 13
Random Thoughts From a Bookworm, March 13
Lighthouse Academy, March 14
Texas Book-aholic, March 14
For Him and My Family, March 15
Mary Hake, March 15
janicesbookreviews, March 15
Literary Reflections Book Blog, March 16
Pause for Tales, March 16
Inspiration Clothesline, March 16
Have A Wonderful Day, March 17
Hallie Reads, March 17
Inklings and notions, March 17
Little Homeschool on the Prairie, March 18
For The Love of Books, March 18
The Becca Files, March 18
To celebrate her tour, Suzanne is giving away a grand prize of an Amazon Kindle!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/de7d/mending-fences-celebration-tour-giveaway