If you need to get away from the Black Friday Madness, is there a better escape than into the simplicity of Amish fiction? Amish stories are in high demand among readers of Christian fiction and it's no wonder. Our lives are filled with busyness, struggle, and crisis. Many readers long for the purity and clarity that the Amish lifestyle suggests.
In Tricia Goyer's latest novel, Along Wooded Paths, Marianna discovers that her simple life has become much more complicated. Living in a small community comprised of both Amish and "Englischers," Mari discovers that a close walk with God isn't solely dependant on one's traditions. When her old friend Aaron Zook arrives from Indiana, bent on convincing her to marry him, she tumbles into indecision. Return to Indiana with the man she has adored since childhood or stay in Colorado and pursue a forbidden relationship with Ben (an Englischer) who has taught her a deeper knowledge of God? Mari knows that she is not only choosing a husband, she is choosing between her Amish traditions and her new life among the Englisch.
I loved several things about Along Wooded Paths. First, I kept turning the pages late into the night because I actually could not figure out which man Mari was going to choose. Generally, with a romance novel, it is obvious which man is the "hero" and which one will be left behind. In this novel, I literally could not figure out which direction Goyer was going to take it. I knew which way I wanted Mari to choose, and I had knot in my stomach through much of the novel, agonizing that I was going to hate the ending. I didn't. Hopefully, I kept these comments vague enough that I didn't spoil anything for you!
Another thing that I appreciated was that Englischers were not portrayed as bad and Amish as good. Goyer did a fantastic job of pointing out the benefits and failings of each community and I was pleased to see how the two groups were able to pull together to help each other in times of need.
Along Wooded Paths is the second novel in the Big Sky series, the first being Beyond Still Waters. I read this second book without having read the original and had no difficulty getting "into" the story, but I imagine I might have enjoyed it even more if I had. Book three, Beyond Hope's Valley, arrives on shelves on April 1, 2012. I have also enjoyed many of Tricia Goyer's other books. Check out these book picks from the past: