A Moving Story of Family and Forgiveness
by Beverly Lewis
Publication Date: September 2, 2014
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
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Tilly and Ruth, two formerly Amish sisters, are plagued by unresolved relationships when they reluctantly return to Lancaster County for their parents’ landmark wedding anniversary. Since departing their Plain upbringing, Tilly has married an Englisher, but Ruth remains single and hasn’t entirely forgotten her failed courtship with her Amish beau.
Past meets present as Tilly and Ruth yearn for acceptance and redemption. Can they face the future in the light of a past they can’t undo?
Sisters Tilly and Ruth each had different reasons for leaving their Amish community of Eden Valley. They weren’t “expelled from Eden” or shunned. They left their home and their faith voluntarily. And they certainly never had any intention to return. So when they receive a letter from their brother inviting them back home for their parents’ fortieth anniversary, they are reluctant to accept. Tilly, especially, isn’t ready to go back and face the painful past she left behind. But when the sisters find that their father is seriously ailing, they grudgingly decide to make the trip back home. But what kind of trouble awaits in Eden Valley? And will they be able to face the painful memories of their past that still haunt them?
Beverly Lewis is prolific. Of the myriad books she’s written, the majority have been titles that are part of a larger series. However, with The River she has written a standalone tale of two sisters who find that they can’t move as independently into their futures as they had hoped without first coming to terms with their past.
I enjoyed getting to know Tilly and Ruth. Lewis does a wonderful job of painting a portrait of two sisters while lending each enough of her own spirit that readers get a good sense of them as separate individuals. The River is a nuanced, moving story that skillfully examines family relationships, guilt and shame, forgiveness, and acceptance. A little at a time, Lewis sheds light on the past and how it affects the present family dynamic, successfully allowing Tilly and Ruth (and her readers) to slowly reintegrate themselves into a now unfamiliar world. We are given ample time to get to know each of the women before going deeper into the past. This allows us a chance to connect with them so that we are invested enough to care about their feelings. Lewis does a great job of exploring family relationships and the difficulties and tensions therein. In fact, I would challenge you to read this book and not take stock of whatever animosities you may have been harboring. For I’m confident that in walking through Ruth’s personal pain, you’ll find healing for what ails your own heart. And for that reason alone, I heartily recommend The River.
— Dawn Teresa
4 of 5 Hearts. A Moving Story of Family and Forgiveness.
On the plus side, as a standalone novel The River is a good entry point into the work of Beverly Lewis. On the flip side, when you finish reading Tilly and Ruth’s story, you’ll be sorry that you’ll not have another opportunity to visit with these special sisters.*Disclosure of Material Connection: I would like to thank Bethany House for providing a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”