Annie Beiler seems to have it all—a loving family in a tight-knit Amish community and the affections of an attractive and respected young man. But when she learns that she was adopted after being found as an abandoned newborn, she sets out on a journey to find out who she is.
Her father is strongly against her decision to leave, as it could mean Meidung, or excommunication from the community and even her family. But Annie knows she must find “the path that has her heart.”
As Annie’s search brings her into the fast-paced world of modern life, she is confronted with all of the temptations she was warned of. Can she make her way back to the order and security of her family? Or will she remain an outsider—torn between her two worlds?
Annie's Truth is unique in that it delves a lot deeper into Amish beliefs and actions than a lot of what is written in the genre today and it really captured my attention from the beginning. Some of the characters act in seemingly foolish ways, so I wasn't sure I would like the book at first, as I wasn't caring for these people very much. But all that works into the book's message, and things change so that by the halfway point, I had a hard time putting it down.
In Annie's mind, she was "different in a community made for all to be the same." Her search for a way to be accepted and to discover why her birth mother abandoned her led Annie to realize that the Amish community she came from was home. But going back resulted in more problems than she could have ever imagined. "Annie's world had turned upside down, and she didn't know how to make it right again."
I liked the way Annie would quietly question some of the Amish beliefs. For instance, although she had feelings for her childhood friend, John, she resented having her spouse chosen for her. And while searching for her birth mother, she stayed with a family in Harrisonburg who had been banished from the Amish community because their son wanted to stay in school. "The life we live doesn't require you to have a higher education, but should one be excommunicated for wanting to expand their mind?" Annie asked.
2006 school shooting in Nickel Mines, PA
Forgiveness is a key theme as Beth brings into her narrative the 2006 shootings in the Nickel Mines Amish community where five young girls were killed. We all know the Amish as a peaceful people, quick to forgive, but the depth of their faith was never more evident than when they forgave the shooter and wanted his family to stay in the community. We often see forgiveness as the end result of a long emotional process, but the Amish see it as a beginning, a starting point. But with the way Annie was treated upon her return, I couldn't help but wonder if sometimes the Amish are better at forgiving outsiders than one of their own.
Annie would sometimes assist the midwife in delivering babies, and one scene was especially touching when a baby with a physical handicap was born. "This was why Annie loved these people, this community. Unlike the outside world, they looked upon this as a blessing, an opportunity to minister to one of Gott's meek children. No hospitals or doctors could replace the insurance of brotherly love between them."
Annie's Truth is a story that can't help but make you think, cause you to reflect on forgiveness - and I believe it will be enjoyed even by those who don't read a lot of Amish fiction. I was delighted to discover Beth Shriver's writing and highly recommend Annie's Truth to those who enjoy inspirational fiction.
Visit Beth's website at bethshriverwriter.com to learn more.