By Ervin R. Stutzman
Return to Northkill #3
Herald Press, 2016
When Christian Hochstetler returns to the Amish after seven years in captivity, he finds that many things have shifted.
Captured as a child during the French and Indian War, Christian has spent much of his life among Native Americans, who cared for him and taught him their ways. Now that Christian is home, his father wants him to settle back into their predictable Amish life of farming, and Christian's budding friendship with Orpha Rupp beckons him to stay as well.
Yet Christian feels restless, and he misses his adoptive Native American family---who raised him as their own son. When faced with a life-altering decision, will Christian choose the Amish identity that his father desires for him? Or will he depart from his family and faith community yet again?
Christian's Hope tells the story of the younger brother of Joseph and son of Jacob, whom readers have come to love in the first two books in the Return to Northkill series. Based on actual events and written by a descendant of the Hochstetler family, Christian's Hope brings the sweeping epic of the Return to Northkill series to a soul-stirring end.
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When it comes to Amish fiction, Christian’s Hope is different – and different is good. The story is told from a male perspective through Christian’s voice and I believe it would go beyond traditional women readers, appealing to male readers also. It would have been helpful had I read the previous two books, but sufficient background was provided to make this succeed as a stand alone.
Historically speaking, this is a strong novel, for it is a fictionalized version of actual events in the author’s family. The conflict is interesting as it relates how, after living for eight years among the Indians who killed some of his family members, Christian sees them as his family and friends. Freed from captivity, he is suddenly confronted with expectations of living in a house, taking up farming, and adopting the Amish faith – in contrast to enjoying the outdoors with wild abandonment. While I didn’t particularly like this young man at first, the author did a good job at conveying realistically Christian’s feelings and longings as someone who no longer belonged with his own people.
My favorite character was Anna, Christian’s stepmother. She was hard working, loyal and compassionate – and she was filled with a godly wisdom that enabled her efforts at, not just keeping the peace, but bridging family relationships.
I enjoyed Christian’s Hope because of its educational value and because it was so different from other Amish stories. Recommended to all who enjoy historical Amish fiction.
Ervin R. Stutzman is author of Jacob's Choice, Joseph's Dilemma, Tobias of the Amish, and Emma, A Widow Among the Amish. Born into an Amish home in Kalona, Iowa, Stutzman based the Return to Northkill series on the life of his ancestor, Jacob Hochstetler. He has been featured on TLC's Who Do You Think You Are?
I was provided a free copy of this book through Litfuse Publicity. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.