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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Bridge of Peace book review

Sorry folks, not ready to post pictures of my new kitchen.  Because, well, it's not done.  We moved into our house with the cabinet bases stained and done.  But I'm putting my dishes into cabinets with no doors and drawers with no drawer fronts.  They're mostly sanded, sitting in the garage, waiting for me to finish them.
But I DID finish something else.  A book.  I totally laid down on my bed during the kids' nap time yesterday, surrounded by boxes waiting to be unpacked, and read a book instead.  So I'm posted a review.

The Bridge of Peace, by Cindy Woodsmall
From the back cover: "Lena Kauffman is a young Old Order Amish schoolteacher who has dealt all her life with attention raised by a noticeable birthmark on her cheek. Having learned to move past the stares and whispers, Lena channels her zest for living into her love of teaching. But tensions mount as she is challenged to work with a rebellious young man and deal with several crises at the schoolhouse that threaten her other students. Her lack of submission and use of ideas that don’t line up with the Old Ways strengthen the school board’s case as they begin to believe that Lena is behind all the trouble.

One member of the school board, Grey Graber, feels trapped by his own stifling circumstances. His wife, Elsie, has shut him out of her life, and he doesn’t know how long he can continue to live as if nothing is wrong. As the two finally come to a place of working toward a better marriage, tragedy befalls their family.

Lena and Grey have been life-long friends, but their relationship begins to crumble amidst unsettling deceptions, propelling each of them to finally face their own secrets. Can they both find a way past their losses and discover the strength to build a new bridge?"

I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  It wasn't so much for the story (though it was fine).  It was because of the very interesting look into the daily lives of an Amish community in Pennsylvania.  As a religious person myself, I am fascinated by others' religion.  By the choices they make based on their beliefs of what God expects of them.  Often, in thinking of how I can explain my religion and my choices to others, I come back to to saying, "If you believed ______________ with all your heart, wouldn't it lead you to do ______________?"  And so I apply that same concept in understanding other religions.  It always makes me realize in the end that we are not so different.
I also enjoyed the simpler life (in some ways) this community lived, because of the things they chose not to embrace.  I think in this modern technology-dependent society, most people are seeking for a simpler life, and yet are unable to find it.  Perhaps taking a step back, a step away, from all of these gadgets, the busy schedules, the endless spinning of our wheels, would allow us a clearer view of our lives and what we want from them.  Perhaps giving up some of those things (though not all) would give us a more satisfying life, a more secure view of our place in the world, and maybe even a feeling of contentment, which seems to elude so many.
As far as the story goes, it too was interesting.  It certainly brought up ideas of handling grief, challenging convention, what true beauty is, and how love comes to people in their different situations.  But again, this book caught me more for the descriptions of the community that the main storyline.
And it was clean.  There is a great reason to read Christian fiction!
This book is part of a series, and I fully intend on reading more of the series.
I give this book 3.5 out of 5 stars.  
And yes, I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.  But I told the whole truth, and nothing but the truth!
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