PUBLICATION DATE: JULY 24, 2012
ideon Miller ran away from his Amish community in Carlisle, Pennsylvania fifteen years ago. Gideon, now thirty years old, lives in Twin Branches, North Carolina, where he works at the local auto mechanic’s garage. He is known as the “Getaway Savior” because he helps other Amish boys and girls relocate to life in modern America, just as the co-owner of the garage once helped him. When the book opens, Gideon is getting to know a potential love interest, Mari, who works at a local restaurant frequented by Gideon. He also crosses paths with Mari’s autistic sister, Kiki. Kiki has trouble fitting in, and she desperately wants to help out at the garage where Gideon works. She turns out to be handier with tools than anyone realized.
The plot heats up when Gideon’s brother, Moriah, calls from Florida. Gideon welcomes his brother to stay with him and offers him a job. However, Moriah is caught in a web which ends in his death. This tragedy forces Gideon to return to the town where he grew up. He makes the trip with his brother’s body in the back of a hearse and Mari and Kiki at his side.
The book is at its best when Gideon is forced to face the community he ran away from years ago, and his own resentment caused by his abusive father.
At its heart, this book is about the power of forgiveness and about how forgiving others can set us free. It is a compelling story with richly drawn characters. Although the plot is a bit slow moving, the story develops nicely and each scene seems to build upon the previous scenes.
The author, Alice Wisler, demonstrates knowledge of the Amish way of life and the difficulties that people in that lifestyle might experience. That being said, she does not come across as overly critical or unfair of the Amish lifestyle. Even if you like Amish fiction, I don’t think you will be offended by this story about those who escape from the lifestyle. In fact, you might find it even more interesting than readers who come to it without any previous familiarity with the Amish people.
The story is told from Gideon’s and Kiki’s perspectives. Although both are well-crafted characters, I enjoyed the portions related from Gideon’s perspective more. The sections narrated by Kiki are good, but Kiki’s autism makes it a little more difficult to relate to her. Still, I think it is probably a realistic look into how someone who is autistic may think and feel. And don’t get me wrong, Kiki is definitely likeable. I liked how she inspired Gideon into making some changes in his life. Wisler’s gentle treatment of Gideon’s past is emotionally moving.
I also enjoyed the ending; Wisler’s novels feel realistic in part because she doesn’t feel the need to have an easy ending.