An Honest Tale of Family, Friendship, Forgiveness, and Healing
by Leslie Gould
Series: Neighbors of Lancaster County (Book 1)
Publication Date: May 5, 2015
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
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Journey Down a Quiet Lane in Lancaster County Where Love and Heartache and Friendship and Healing Meet
When Joel and Shani Beck arrive at their new home, they’re looking for peace. Shani is thrilled to have Joel back from Iraq, but he needs time to heal, and the quiet of Lancaster seems just the place. They can’t imagine any trouble with their Amish neighbors, the Lehmans, but things get off to a rocky start when their son is involved in an accident that injures one of the Lehman boys.
Eve Lehman has run her brother’s household ever since the death of his wife, but Tim’s a stern patriarch. Despite his protests, she’s drawn to the new neighbor, Shani, and the two begin to form a strong friendship forged on faith and family. Things seem like they’ve quieted down until Joel’s single and handsome army friend Charlie catches Eve’s attention–a man unlike any Eve has ever met. Suddenly life for both families becomes more complicated than any of them could have ever imagined.
These words from the book jacket may be one of the most accurate and honest tag-lines I’ve ever seen:
“…where love and heartache and friendship and healing meet.”
Shani prays that by moving to Lancaster County, Joel, her injured veteran husband (who also suffers from PTSD) can begin to experience real healing. Shani and her son are especially hopeful about their new living arrangements (Joel, not so much). But when there’s an accident involving the Amish children next door, tensions rise. Still, despite some difficulties and disapproval, there are friendships forged between the two families that cast significant ripples into the futures of all involved.
In Amish Promises, Leslie Gould ambitiously tackles many difficult and sensitive topics. By juxtaposing and blending two very different families – the Becks (Englishers) and the Lehmans (Lancaster County Pennsylvania Dutch) – she teaches some important lessons. For example: No family is immune to relational tension. No matter your walk of life, you can’t escape pain and heartache. Both the Lehman family and the Beck family have sorrow in their respective pasts that affects their present situations and also threatens to irreparably harm their futures. Gould’s characters (and, subsequently, her readers) come to understand that though forgiveness is not always easy, it is often a necessary prerequisite to healing. Additionally, Gould uses the relationship between Shani and Eve, two at-first-glance dissimilar women, to show that trust is something which sometimes requires a leap of faith in order to grow, and that one can find friendship in unexpected places.
Reading the stories of these interconnected families was moving and comforting. Although Gould covers some weighty ground, the tone always remains hopeful and calm. Readers will find it easy to relate to Shani and Eve. Though neither has a trouble-free life, each approaches the challenges life hands her with strength and grace. Kudos to Leslie Gould for creating a friendship between these women that never felt contrived or unlikely. It was a pleasure to spend time in their company!
Perhaps the most surprising and most fulfilling aspect of reading Amish Promises is this: You’ll find that being witness to Gould’s characters’ lives – with access to even their most private thoughts, words, and emotions – will cause you to examine your own life. You might ask yourself hard questions about things you’d prefer not to think about. But in the end, you’ll be glad you did. And though the answers may not come readily or comfortably, with a little faith and trust, they will come.
— Dawn Teresa
4 of 5 Hearts. An Honest Tale of Family, Friendship, Forgiveness, and Healing.
Gould’s protagonist Shani hoped that relocating to Lancaster County would bring healing to her family. Well, you know what I discovered by reading Amish Promises? My time spent in this fictional landscape was a balm for my own heart. Do yourself a favor — read this book!
*Disclosure of Material Connection: I would like to thank Bethany House Publishers for providing me a free copy of this title. 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.”