In book 3 of the Emma Raber’s Daughter series, Jerry Eicher brings the faith-filled journey of Katie Raber to its happy conclusion.
A year has passed since Ben broke Katie’s heart, and her efforts to fit in with the community after joining the Amish church seem to have been successful. She is chosen as the new schoolteacher and has a suitor — both signs that the past is behind her. Ben’s release from prison and his return to the community is no immediate threat to her contentment, but she discovers that Da Hah has a different, if rocky, path for her.
This is the first of Jerry Eicher's novels that I've read and I enjoyed it very much. Katie's Forever Promise (Harvest House) completes the Emma Raber's Daughter series. While much has obviously happened in Katie's life leading up to this novel, between the excellent way Jerry quickly catches us up and reading previous book descriptions, it worked well as a stand-alone novel for me. However, I would recommend reading the series in order: Katie Opens Her Heart (book 1) and Katie's Journey to Love (book 2).
Jerry's writing shows that the Amish face the same difficulties that we face, as he builds storylines around sensitive issues - such as anger that leads to spousal abuse, the illegal sale of drugs, and giving testimony in court. The fact that sin has consequences and affects those we love is also beautifully brought out.
Ben is a strong character that I really admired, a young man who exhibits guilt, confession, repentance, and eventually restoration. Ben's Amish upbringing had instilled in him a sense of honesty, leading him initially to go against Amish teaching and testify against another in court. "They believed in forgiveness, in reaching out to those who had harmed them, hoping to draw a lost soul into the love of the Savior. Punishing people for their crimes didn't soften hearts, the community believed. It usually only hardened them."
Katie, believing that Ben is out of her life for good at the beginning of this story, begins dating another young man in the community. It was hard for me to understand how she could do this when she obviously had no feelings for him, but I think she was seeking God's will and trusted that if this was of God, then feelings would develop. Katie's stepsister, Mabel, succeeds at selfishly complicating things for everybody, but her character adds much interest and matures toward the end.
Jerry does a good job at bringing out some of the more realistic aspects of Amish life. For a people who are so peaceful, humble and forgiving, it always amazes me at how legalistic and judgmental they can be, and how many of them gossip and condemn their own. Katie asks, "What if the bishop and other men in the ministry hierarchy were wrong? What if Ben was redeemable, and they couldn't see it? What if Ben was ready to believe, and no one was ready to trust him or give him the opportunity?"
In the spousal abuse situation, I would have liked to see more detail given after the character's public confession. Did his confession alone lead to rehabilitation, or was more involved? This just seemed a little lacking to me.
Katie's Forever Promise is a very good read overall and I am eager to read more of Jerry Eicher's books. Recommended to fans of Amish fiction.
Jerry S. Eicher
Jerry begins a new series entitled The Beiler Sisters. Book 1, Holding a Tender Heart, comes out in January of 2014. Learn more about this series here.
See the FIRST Wild Card Tour post for more information. And to learn more about Jerry's Amish fiction, visit his website.
This book was provided by FIRST Wild Card Tour and Harvest House in exchange for my honest review.