Rachel Milligan is caring for her seven-year-old niece, Holly, at her home in Chicago when she receives devastating news: Holly's parents have been killed in a plane crash. Because Rachel is Holly's only known relative, she assumes that she will be her beloved niece's guardian. However, custody is awarded to Lydia, a distant aunt who happens to be Amish. Just a week before Christmas, Rachel takes Holly to the Amish community in the hopes of persuading Aunt Lydia to relinquish custody. Instead, Lydia sets out to teach Holly to live according to the Amish way. As family secrets emerge and old wounds are healed, Rachel realizes that she will do whatever it takes to ensure that Holly has the loving family she needs.
Combining an Amish family saga with the anticipation of Christmas cheer and the promise of a budding romance, this newest Christmas story from beloved author Melody Carlson is sure to please.
I realize I probably should have written this review before Christmas, considering it's a Christmas book and all, but I was pretty swamped with other reviews to write, not to mention all the presents to buy. I haven't forgotten it, though, and it still sits on my dresser waiting to be reviewed so I can move it to my "done" pile on the floor. So let's do this!
This was a fun little read that took me about an hour, maybe an hour and a half. I was sick when I read it, and it was the perfect sick read: interesting enough to hold my attention, but not long enough to lose me in the middle. Carlson portrays Rachel and Holly's grieving very realistically, showing the transition from grief to exhaustion to beginning to move on very realistically.
I also really liked the way she depicted the Amish in this book: most Amish books I read are really bad (which is why I don't read very many) and leave me with the feeling that if an Amish person read them he or she would be ashamed. This book, however, shows the Amish as real people who happen to live a different way. They grieve, they get annoyed, they love each other - first and foremost they are human, not Amish.
I had never read the author before, but I have a friend who's a huge fan of hers. I don't know that I'm going to run out buy all of Carlson's other books, but if I see another one at the library I'll probably check it out.