When young Annie Martin leaves her mother’s home, she takes up residence in her grandfather’s house. Her grandfather (Daadi Moses), lives next door to Aden Zook and Aden’s family. Aden’s family owns a diner and that’s how they make their living. Since Aden’s father and Moses are in business together via ownership of the diner, the diner is allowed to have electricity.
The Zook family is Amish and the Martins are Mennonite. The Amish are forbidden from using electricity and their business partnership with Moses allows them to have the necessary electricity to run their business – Mennonites are allowed to have electricity in their homes and businesses.
When Annie and Aden begin courting, meeting secretly at night in Moses’s cherry blossom field, things become heated between the two families – Mennonites and Amish are forbidden from dating one another. Moses threatens to pull his partnership from the Zook family business, which would force them to shut down and they’d no longer be able to make a living. Moses poses this threat because Annie and Aden are courting and it’s forbidden. Aden’s family pushes him to end things with Annie, but, his heart is telling him to do otherwise.
Aden has a twin brother, Roman, who was injured in a buggy accident and now he’s bound to a wheelchair. There’s a side story about Roman being sent away to fix a generator for a relative. A mechanical whiz, Roman feels useful doing something helpful since his independence has disappeared since he can’t walk. Roman becomes enamored with a girl living next door to his relative.
I enjoyed this book, however, there were several things that bothered me about the story. The things that bothered me have no reflection at all on the author or the story, but, it’s just things that stuck in my mind that didn’t seem Christian about the way the Amish and Mennonites live.
Aden and Annie are in love, and they’ve always had feelings for one another, but they didn’t begin courting until they were adults. Both have taken a vow to their respective churches. I think it’s the vow concept that is so foreign to me and it was hard for me to connect to the characters in this fashion. It was implied if Annie and Aden had broken their vow to the church (by marrying one another) then they’d be doomed to a life in hell. Also, Moses tells Aden that the Bible states that it’s wrong to be unequally yoked.
I guess that whole unequally yoked comment from Moses bothered me a lot because I feel he’s implying that the only Christians on this earth are the Mennonites – everybody else are unbelievers – which is not the case – is everybody on this earth doomed to a life in hell if they don’t commit to the Mennonite faith? I felt that both groups were grossly misinterpreting scripture and making both Aden and Annie unnecessarily miserable.
Also, this “vow” makes no sense to me. I understand the concept of accepting Christ as your savior, becoming baptized, growing closer to Him. However, there’s nothing in the Bible that says you can’t use technology to make a living – the only reason the Zook family was pardoned by their church for using electricity was because they had a Mennonite partner. If Moses were to sever the partnership, they would’ve lost their business because they would not be “allowed” by the church to use electricity. Does that also mean that their salvation would be lost if they chose to continue the business as is if Moses were to leave? It’s almost as if both groups are placing extra “rules” onto Christianity and then acting like “God” himself by deciding who’s saved and who’s going to hell – basing the decision on superficial things like the use/non-use of electricity, cars, buggies, etc.
I really LOVED that both Aden and Annie discovered that God would forgive them for breaking their vow to the church in order to live in holy matrimony. They realized that God would bless their marriage and that there was nothing wrong with their being together as a couple. I also liked it when Annie was speaking to Moses on the phone, asking him if his beloved deceased wife had been Amish instead of Mennonite, if he would’ve walked away from her. That hit a nerve with Moses, and I think he began to see the error of his ways at that point.
Overall, a nice, heartwarming read. Many thanks to Waterbrook Press for providing me with a free review copy.