Calling all readers: You want to read this book.
I just finished it ten minutes ago and I have been telling everyone in earshot for the last hours: This is an out-of-the-ballpark Amish novel.
In fact, for those of us who are wary of Amish "bonnet" novels, let me put it this way:
Promise to Return is a grand story.
Promise to Return is a complex love story. I found it extremely believable in its hopes and confusions. It was agonizing at times, as Miriam tried to find a steady guide in this crazy world to navigate the paths laid out before her. More than once, I feared that the craziness would cause a heart to break beyond repair. This is one of the few books I have read where the relationship triangle was spot-on and added depth instead of taking it away. There were times when I was unsure, like Miriam herself, of who I wanted her to love... although not *too* unsure, because Henry is a fine character and a very good man.
May I repeat: This romance was well done.
Promise to Return is a war story. That is why I really wanted this book, because it's about World War Two soldiers. The author, Elizabeth Byler Younts, was raised Amish as a child and is now a home-schooling Mom and the wife of an Air Force Officer. The authenticity of this book that I could feel bone-deep as I read, that comes from her life experience. This is why her story shines when she writes about soldiers and the people who love them, and why she was able to bring Miriam's inner world to life. No matter how the times and places changes from then to know, the heart of the matter doesn't.
There are some books that are okay to stay in for a vacation, other that I've wanted to live in them. Seeds of Evidence, The Ollie Chandler Series, Burning Sky, Small Town Girl,
Fireflies in December...I can think of a few books I would live inside. Right now, this is one of them.
Promise to Return is a book full of characters I would love to meet. Miriam herself, who's power to make decisions seems frail at times, and I'd cheer for her and then say "I'd have been torn the same way she was." Henry, who is a giver. He gives grace and forgiveness and care. And then Eli who seems to be a taker, used to taking whatever he wants. And Mrs. Poole, a non-Amish woman whose Christianity is a beautiful thing. And a whole bunch of other folks I can't name by name because they're part of the plot.
I'm afraid of saying too much more. Just go read the book.
Thank you Howard Books for sending me my copy to review!!!