PUBLICATION DATE: APRIL 17, 2012
fter having spent some time away from her conservative Amish community in Delaware, Leah Yoder is struggling to fit back in again. Although she’s long beyond the typical age for joining the Amish church, Leah still doesn’t feel ready to make that sort of commitment, especially with family members and neighbours watching her every move and pointing out her mistakes. She particularly struggles to heed her family’s advice when she meets kind and charismatic Mennonite missionary, Daniel Brown. The two bond while looking for a missing Amish boy, and soon their lives are fused together. Yet in spite of Daniel’s best efforts to prove to Leah’s family that his intentions are honourable, her mother and sisters are disapproving of their friendship. Leah’s mother knows firsthand the heartbreak of marrying someone from a different faith, and would never wish that sort of hurt upon her own daughter. But the more her family warns her against a relationship with Daniel, the more she feels drawn to him. Is there any hope for Leah and Daniel’s relationship, or are the restrictions of their different faiths too complicated?
Love Inspired novels can often be hit or miss for me, but Emma Miller is one author that I know will never disappoint. I’ve been following this series ever since the first book, Courting Ruth, was released in 2010, and I love that Emma makes an effort to let readers know how characters from previous books are getting on in their lives. That’s one thing that makes the Hannah’s Daughters series so enjoyable to read. By the time I got around to reading Leah’s Choice, I had a firm vision in my head of what the Yoder house looked like, as well as the surrounding area. But as much as I enjoyed visiting with these characters, I didn’t find Leah’s story quite as compelling as that of Ruth or Anna’s. Leah was only introduced in the third book in the series, so perhaps this explains why I didn’t relate to her character quite so much.
At times, Leah seemed quite immature for her age, and I wished I had been able to read about her rumspringe years in order understand how she’d become the woman she was in Leah’s Choice. But, all things considered, she and Daniel were a good match. Despite having worked as a missionary for years, Daniel was still scatter-brained and constantly forgetting to do essential things, such as putting gas in his car or leaving his passport behind before driving to the airport. I won’t deny that Leah and Daniel made a good couple, but I did wish their relationship hadn’t moved quite so fast. The first chapter of this book leapt right into the action, with Leah and Daniel heading off to look for a lost child. Their relationship seemed to move by leaps and bounds, rather than the relaxed pace that you often come across in Amish novels. I wished I had had time to get to know Leah and Daniel as separate characters before being thrown into the midst of their blossoming relationship. Their romance was incredibly sweet, and I especially loved the epilogue to Leah’s Choice, even if everything did seem to move so fast for this couple.
As I said before, one of my favourite aspects of this series is the continuity. I love catching up with Ruth, Miriam and Anna, even though they’ve moved out of the Yoder household and started families of their own. Leah’s grandmother, great-aunt and two younger sisters also featured in this novel, often spouting advice about Leah’s relationship and whether she should join the church. I was also pleased to see that an overarching storyline about another Yoder sister, Johanna, was concluded in this book. When we were introduced to Johanna in the first book in the series, it was clear that, although she was married with two children, her marriage wasn’t a happy one. Several sisters have already voiced their concerns about Johanna’s husband over the course of previous books, and the situation comes to a head in Leah’s Choice. Abuse within the Amish community isn’t a topic I’ve come across in this genre before, and I think Emma Miller dealt with it quite well. It was certainly difficult to read about Johanna’s situation, but I felt that the end of the novel offered hope for her.
Since this is a series I’ve followed since its beginnings, it’s hard to decide whether or not Leah’s Choice can be read as a standalone novel. All of the characters are introduced in such a way that a new reader won’t feel too confused if they start with the fourth book in the Hannah’s Daughters series, but I think readers will appreciate the secondary characters and overarching plotlines more if they start with Courting Ruth.
Although Leah’s Choice is definitely not my favourite novel in the Hannah’s Daughters series, it was a relaxing, easy read, and I enjoyed catching up with characters from previous books. I did wish that Leah’s character had been a little more developed and that her romance hadn’t moved so quickly, but I was pleased with the conclusion to the novel. I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series, Redeeming Grace, later this year.
fter watching her sisters get married, Leah Yoder wondered about her future husband, the Amish man she was going to spend the rest of her life with, and raise their children while living in their Amish community close to her family. However, when she meets Daniel Brown, a Mennonite missionary, she is taken aback. She is attracted to him, finds him fascinating, and starts questioning her Amish ways.
On his part, Daniel is awestruck by Leah, this beautiful Amish girl who is strong, independent and always prepared. They spend time together and begin a forbidden courtship behind her family’s back. But when their feelings for each other get stronger, Leah faces a decision that will affect her life forever: Will she leave her family and follow her heart to be with the man she loves or will she stay with her family and forsake the love of her life?
Leah Yoder is not afraid to speak her mind; she is very outspoken, smart, a natural born leader and a free spirit (well, sort of. I don’t know how free spirit you can be in the Amish community). She is a great character, as well as Daniel. You see their instant attraction and it’s not hard to see why. She is beautiful, independent, resourceful, strong and smart; he is sweet and exciting, full of interesting stories and with a heart committed to God and His work.
It’s easy to love these characters, to be interested in their story, in the blossoming romance. However, their romance is not well developed. They go out on a non-date (Leah refuses to call “date” that which is obviously one), and is cute and you know they loved it, they loved being with each other, but the next thing you know, a few days have gone by, they have been seeing each other, but the reader is not privy to what happened during those dates. It sometimes felt as if we were being told parts of a story instead of the whole story. It felt somewhat segmented. And the romance is not the only thing affected by this: each time a problem appeared, it was solved rather quickly, and uneventfully. It’s like this happened, and this is how it was solved. This way of telling a story is disappointing to me because there was no tension. The author creates some sort of anticipation with a few problems here and there, but then, as quickly as the problems appeared they went away; so as soon as some tension began to built, it was pulled back, and that made the story rather flat.
I did like the fact that the author showed different sides of the Amish, including some domestic violence, and alcoholism. Also, I loved to read about the differences between Mennonites and Amish, and the differences from one Amish community to the next.
The story is sweet, the characters are very likable, cute; they are what made the story interesting and worth reading for me. Leah’s choice will not come as a surprise, but, although expected, it is a nice, and satisfying ending.