Believe it or not, Beside Still Waters is the first Amish novel I’ve read! Up to this point, I’ve avoided the “Amish craze”. But when B&H Publishing sent me a wonderful gift package with this book, a calendar full of gorgeous scenes of Amish country, and a sample of Amish-made coffee, I decided to give it a try!
On the very night that Marianna Sommers was born, a terrible accident takes the lives of her two older sisters. She’s spent her life trying to make up for her family’s loss and live up to her sisters’ memories. All she desires is a simple life married to Aaron Zook. But her father has other plans…he announces that he’s moving the entire family to Montana. He’s ready to leave the past behind and start fresh. Marianna is heartbroken, but feels obligated to go with her family, at least temporarily. Once in Montana, Marianna is confused and troubled by the interaction between the Englisch and Amish. And yet, the Englisch are not all like she has imagined. She begins to develop friendships and sense God working in her heart in a new way, and is uncertain whether to return East or stay in Montana. The story is left partially unresolved at the end, with a sequel planned in the near future. Beside Still Waters is the first title in Tricia Goyer’s new “Big Sky” series.
I’ve felt like the current popularity of Amish fiction tends to almost idealize the Amish lifestyle at times. I really appreciate Ms. Goyer’s portrayal in Beside Still Waters. She commends some aspects of the Amish ways but points out weaknesses as well. A major theme in the book is the misconceptions Marianna has about the Englisch, as well as those that they have about her and her family. As Marianna encounters the world outside of the sheltered community in which she was raised, her relationship with God grows deeper and her character develops and matures. It was a sweet, entertaining tale, and I’m looking forward to reading the next book to learn more of Marianna’s story.