Friday, October 11, 2013

*The Bargain*

  The Bargain

"Gritty" "Authentic" and "Can't wait for the next volume!" are not words I have ever used to describe an Amish novel.
There are two explanations for this phenomena: One is that I came up with that when I wasn't around, the other is that I just met an extraordinary book whose heroine happens to wear a bonnet.
It is the latter. The Bargain, book one in The Plain City Peace series is now a serious competitor for my Favorite Fall Read of 2013.


Our leading lady, Amish girl Betsie, views the upheaval of the American 1970's with wise-beyond-her-years eyes.

She is the perfect protagonist for us to examine the big themes through her perspective, and her religion set in contrast with what appeared to be an "anything goes" 70's culture, raises a ton of questions.

In the middle of Amish morality, carefully maintained and set down as the community's laws, Betsie's parents have become Christians.
They now know the One who died for them, who set them free from trying to keep a set of laws that cannot save them. They now follow the Lord who set them free instead to live in purity and grace out of Love, because of Love.
Betsie cannot understand why they would make this terrible mistake and leave the religion they were raised in. And Betsie and Sadie, her sister, will not follow their mother and father out into the world of the English... not to stay.

Betsie's time with the English is going to be strictly business, living with an English family so that she can temporarily take her cousin Nelson's place as their harness shop apprentice. She will keep her distance from the family members and will not, according to Amish tradition, even speak to customers by herself. Instead she will diligently fill a notebook with all that Nelson needs to know, and hope that he can come back soon and take his rightful place.
{See that notebook she's clutching in the cover illustration? That's the one!}
But Betsie never thought that she would walk into the Sullivan home and they would turn out to be people, with their own struggles and fears and with their own longings for family.

You will be delighted as Betsie meets Sheila, the daughter. Suddenly Betsie has a cheerful little girl befriending her, a girl who wants to be involved in the wholesome work and pleasures like helping to wash dishes and make cookies.

And she meets the owner of that yellow Super Bee car you see on the cover. Michael.
I found myself really liking this kid.
He's comical one moment and dead serious the next.
A wounded rebel, Michael wants to stand for something in a world that is falling for everything. He is the epitome of a young man trying to find himself, set adrift in a sea of philosophies that the world is offering him, unsure where the Northern star of absolute truth has gone.
He's a poet inside and a cynic to the world.
Ravi Zacharias would love to meet this young man.
Michael reminds me of this quote from Mr. Zacharias:

“In the 1950s kids lost their innocence.
They were liberated from their parents by well-paying jobs, cars, and lyrics in music that gave rise to a new term ---the generation gap.

In the 1960s, kids lost their authority.
It was a decade of protest---church, state, and parents were all called into question and found wanting. Their authority was rejected, yet nothing ever replaced it.

In the 1970s, kids lost their love. It was the decade of me-ism dominated by hyphenated words beginning with self.
Self-image, Self-esteem, Self-assertion....It made for a lonely world. Kids learned everything there was to know about sex and forgot everything there was to know about love, and no one had the nerve to tell them there was a difference." 

That is Michael. A young man the Lord can mightily use, Michael just needs to be introduced to Jesus. 

Oh, how I am waiting for the sequel! Hurry, Please!
Thank you Litfuse for this book!

Image of Stephanie Reed




Stephanie Reed lives on the outskirts of Plain City, Ohio, site of a once-thriving Amish community. She gleans ideas for her novels from signs glimpsed along the byways of Ohio, as she did for her previous books, Across the Wide River and The Light Across the River.

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