Elizabeth Byler Younts brings storytelling skill together with her own Amish childhood experiences and the result is "bonnet fiction" that isn't a cliche.
Promise To Cherish is volume two in The Promise of Sunrise series. Ever since I read Promise to Return in September 2013, I've had a spot ready on my bookshelf for the sequel.
We met Eli Brenneman in book one, and he was a rebel and a trouble-maker. Eli wasn't thinking seriously about either taking up a responsible Amish life or entering the English world... he was just doing as he pleased.
Being footloose and fancy free suited Eli, until he realized that it was a life with no definite goal or purpose. While all his friends came home to wives and families, Eli had neither. And when this book begins, he has been drafted. As an Amish man during World War Two, Eli is a conscientious objector, and as such he will serve stateside in a Civilian Public Service Unit.
The CPS brings him to the Hudson River State Hospital, a psychiatric hospital where the patients are all but ignored by the outside world and the staff is over-tasked and under-paid. It would take a special woman to endure the conditions and continue to serve the patients as individual human beings, and
that woman is Christine Freeman. Christine is attempting to keep her financially unstable family afloat, trying to tend her patients, and trying not to think about her wartime losses. The last thing she needs is any trouble from the new CPS orderlies.
During a war that called every able-bodied man to fight, it must have been difficult to see perfectly healthy Amish youths opting out. Christine feels that resentment toward Eli when she meets him, and as readers we get to see both sides. The idea of serving your country and yet objecting to violence comes through strongly in both books in this series, and it makes for interesting discussion if you read with a friend.
We get to watch Eli become dear friends with Nurse Freeman, and then when her world is shattered he wants so badly to help.
What can Eli Brenneman offer? Perhaps he can share his Amish home with her, and maybe his country community will heal her heart.
This book is a historical novel, and it's also a love story of the sacrificial, giving kind.
I connected with the characters right away, and their emotions and struggles tugged on my heart.
Promise to Cherish is a keeper on my shelf.
Thank you Howard Books for my review copy.