PUBLICATION DATE: AUGUST 01, 2012
adie Lapp returns home after spending the winter with her newlywed sister in Ohio. Her return is completely unexpected and surprising, but not as much as the fact that she comes carrying a baby in a basket. Soon, she is the talk of her Amish county. Everybody assumes the baby is hers, even Gideon, the young man that has been courting her for the past few months, and his reaction and response to the situation puts a strain in their relationship.
Meanwhile, Sadie starts getting closer to Will, a troubled college student who is staying at the Lapp farm acting as a guard for a pair of falcons that is nesting there. Although Will is an Englisher, Sadie can’t help but feel attracted to him; and he cannot help being attracted to her. As their relationship grows, Gideon does everything he can to have her forgiveness and win her back.
Who are the baby’s parents? Who left him with Sadie? Why? And which way will Sadie’s heart go in the end?
Suzanne Woods Fisher is a great story teller. She is funny and endearing where the story needs it; sweet and tender where it calls for it; and compelling and profound where it requires it. Here we have a very well written love triangle that makes you feel for all three involved, care for each of them, and constantly change your mind when it comes to who Sadie should choose in the end. This is a sweet story of love and forgiveness.
Sadie is thrust into a situation that would be hard for anyone, even more so for a 15 year old girl: a rumor that her trip to visit her sister looked highly suspicious and that the baby she brought home is hers. She learns the hard way about gossip: how hurtful and unfair it is, and how incredibly fast it spreads. But through this entire situation, quiet and shy Sadie learns to find her voice, to confront things head on, speak her mind and grow up. A great example of how God uses these types of situations in our life for our own good. However, although Sadie certainly did need to grow up and stand up for herself, I think the author forgot that she is only 15 years old: she sounds way too mature, too wise when handing out advice to much older people. A 21 year old or maybe even an 18 year old Sadie would have made more sense.
Now, in this story we not only get to see Sadie’s side of things; we see Gideon’s and Will’s points of view, as well as Sadie’s father’s and M.K.’s points of view. And that is one point of view too many. I don’t mind her father’s side of the story simply because it’s not Sadie’s love story alone, but her father’s as well. And I loved seeing him sort out his feelings for Fern, my favorite character in this series. But M.K, Sadie’s youngest sister, is too annoying for me and I constantly wished there was less of her. The way she is written, she is mostly a caricature, an exaggeration.
The story kept my interest and my anticipation all the way through. I wanted to see Sadie’s father happy with Fern, a remarkable, very well written character; a sweet and caring woman disguised as a stern housekeeper. But mostly, of course, I wanted to see the resolution of this funny and interesting love triangle. Sadly, however, I was disappointed. Although the story is a great journey, the ending left me without closure; it was too open and inconclusive. Sadie’s final and most expected choice is mostly implied. In the end, we didn’t get to see much of Sadie, so her thought process was lost on me. However, although disappointed with the ending, the story is so well written, the characters so likable (well, most of them anyway) that I still felt satisfied.
adie Lapp longs for the reassuring quiet that she grew up with when she returns from her stay at her sister’s home, only to be met with news cameras and strangers milling around her farm in Stoney Ridge, and Sadie is bringing along her fair share of surprises of her own. Her family is well aware that their farm is a haven to a variety of species of birds, but when a rare breed of falcon decides to nest on their property, bird watching fanatics have traveled long and far to observe the pair in a natural habitat. Out of concern of their safety, college intern William Stoltz is assigned to keep the birds safe by taking up residence in the Lapp family’s unused cottage. Will is intrigued about the Amish lifestyle and attempts to sit back and observe, however as the Amish people draw him in he realizes the Plain lifestyle has more to do with them then he realizes. Not only is Will taking up residence in the Lapp cottage, he is encroaching in on Gideon Smucker’s plans to court Sadie Lapp, and Gid is not happy about it one bit.
Poor Sadie Lapp really gets put through the wringer in this story. She has to deal with watching after an abandoned baby left in a train station, being surrounded by the rumor wheel, her father’s poor health, and to top it off she finds herself in a love triangle. Despite all the negativity in her life, Sadie sorts through these issues and the reader is able to take away reminders of what is important in life. The first issue that the Lapp family faces is the abandoned baby that Sadie brings with her on her way home from an extended visit to her sister’s house. When friends and neighbors see Sadie with a baby after being away for several months, the Church makes assumptions and Sadie is faced with being shunned as punishment for her assumed impurity. Even though her family knows that Sadie is not the baby’s mother, the community doesn’t believe her and the church demands that Sadie needs to pay for her sins. It would be easy, and even expected, for the Lapps to turn her away, yet Sadie’s family stands by her and her decision to care for a child that Sadie believes was brought into her life by God. By doing so, they are rewarded in ways they cannot imagine.
Will is a young man who has made mistakes and is in trouble with the law. He is denied entrance into medical school after being charged with a DUI, and he’s desperate to keep this information from his father, who is habitually disappointed in Will. He agrees to work to do illegal work in exchange for help in getting the DUI charge dropped and hidden from his father. In the beginning of the story, this seems like the only option available to Will. However, after living with the Lapp family and learning about the values that the Amish live by, Will finds himself being self-convicted and reconsiders his agreement to hide his crime.
There are multiple storylines that go on in this novel, and while it’s obvious that the author is setting up for a sequel in this series, it seems like there is too much left unresolved too feel resolution at the end of the book. I do value the importance of leaving the reader yearning to know what happens next to Sadie and her friends and family, but it leaves this book with so much unresolved conflict to get that satisfying feeling when a book is finished being read.
Suzanne Woods Fisher creates a wonderful group of characters. You’ll want to shield sweet, shy Sadie Lapp from the rumors. You’ll laugh at her bookish sister who says whatever is on her mind and her half deaf uncle’s overloud exclamations. You’ll also be as confused as Sadie when two completely different, yet appealing men compete for her attention. Fans of Amish fiction and bird-watching will enjoy this story and ones to come.