Sunday, February 9, 2014

Review: The Calling

The Calling
By Suzanne Woods Fisher
Revell, 2014


Twenty-year-old Bethany Schrock is restless. Her love life has derailed, her faith hangs by a thread, and she is spending the incredibly hot summer days wading through a lifetime’s accumulation of junk at the home of five ancient Amish sisters. About the only thing that holds her interest is the spirited and dangerously handsome Jimmy Fisher–and he seems bent on irritating her to no end.

When the sly old sisters and a guest at the Inn get Bethany involved in running the local soup kitchen and starting a community garden, she suddenly finds herself wondering, Shootfire! How did that happen? Despite her newfound purposefulness, a gnawing emptiness about a childhood mystery continues to plague her. Encouraged by Jimmy Fisher, she will seek out the answers she craves–and uncover a shocking secret that will break her heart, heal it, and point her to love.

My thoughts

The Calling, book two in the Inn at Eagle Hill series, reunites us with the Schrock and King families, introducing some new characters as well. When it comes to Amish fiction, Suzanne's writing stands out because of its authenticity, flowing prose, spiritual depth, rich characterization, and multilayered storylines. Book one, The Letters, was inspired by an actual event in the Amish community, and this theme continues to cast its long shadow. Suzanne is also very effective at bringing non-Amish characters into the story, which expands this book's appeal beyond Amish fiction fans.

A major strength of The Calling is its outstanding ensemble cast, and I'm amazed at how they all connect and interact. The five elderly sisters captured my heart, for they understood what it meant to be the hands of Christ to their world and they worked tirelessly. Bethany struggles with her job of cleaning their messy house, but "the more time Bethany spent around the sisters, the more amazed she was at their quiet and purposeful lives . . . they had better things to do with their time than clean and tidy and iron and dust." One of the things I love about the Amish is the way they quickly rise to meet a need, making work fun - and this is beautifully shown in the way everyone comes together to create and sustain a community garden.

Community garden

One of my favorite characters is Geena, a youth pastor who is passionate about helping teens, but was fired from her church because of her weak preaching skills. Using her stay at Rose Schrock's bed & breakfast to find another church position, God uses her passion and gifts to minister to those around her. Geena discovers an important spiritual truth that should speak to all of us:  "She had been asking the wrong question: Which church should I serve in? Surely the answer was to look around and see the church was everywhere."

Galen's sister, Naomi, is another strong character that I loved - a young girl extremely talented at quilting, and with an unusual ability to see or feel strange things. Suzanne is really gifted at creating characters you'll love and a storyline that entertains, with spiritual insights a natural part of the narrative. In Naomi's words:

"Piecing a quilt top seems to be evidence of how God works in this world. . . . I take all these scraps and leftovers and odds and ends, and turn them into something beautiful. Something useful and purposeful. It just seems like that's what God is always doing, all around us. Taking our jumble of mess and transforming it into something wondrous."

Book three, The Revealing, will be released in July 2014. I highly recommend The Calling to all readers.

My review of book one, The Letters, can be found here.

Suzanne Woods Fisher

        Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling author of the Inn at Eagle Hill series, Lancaster County Secrets series, and the Stoney Ridge Seasons series, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace. She is also the coauthor of a new Amish children's series, The Adventures of Lily Lapp.
        Her interest in the Anabaptist cultures can be directly traced to her grandfather, who was raised in the Old Order German Baptist Brethren Church in Franklin County, Pennsylvania.
        Suzanne is a Carol Award winner and a Christy Award finalist. She is a columnist for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazines. She lives in California.

Meet Suzanne online at:

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity and Revell for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Carole!
    Wow...LOVED this review! So grateful for the deeper themes you caught--especially Geena's and the ancient Sisters! I think you're going to like "The Revealing." Naomi's story! Full of surprises.
    Thank you very, very much for such a thoughtful, well written review, Carole. Hope you'll post it on Amazon!
    Warmly, Suzanne