WHEN THE HEART CRIES
Sisters of the Quilt, Book 1
Move over, Beverly Lewis and Wanda Brunstetter. Cindy Woodsmall’s debut novel, WHEN THE HEART CRIES, gets the Sisters of the Quilt series off to a promising start, with plenty of Amish intrigue, romance and tragedy.
Hannah Lapp is the 17-year-old daughter of an Old Order Amish family who is in love with the older and more worldly Paul Waddell. She lives on a farm in Owl’s Perch in Perry County, Pennsylvania, where life is lived in old-fashioned ways. Paul is Mennonite and, even worse, a college student, which is anathema to Hannah’s strict Amish parents. Loving and enjoying time with Paul has shown Hannah the welcome conveniences of electricity and cars, as well as the value of an education (many Amish girls’ educations end at eighth grade). Hannah longs for modern accouterments like personal computers and the Internet. Despite her parents’ misgivings and the upheaval in her life that loving Paul will bring about, Hannah accepts Paul’s marriage proposal.
Then, tragedy strikes when Hannah’s stroll along a deserted road leads to a disastrous assault. Her family and Amish community --- rather than consoling and helping her as a victim --- casts her in the role of a promiscuous sinner. They demand she repent of her wrongdoing. Hannah’s younger, envious and troubled sister Sarah adds fuel to the fire by misrepresenting Hannah’s activities. Worse yet for Hannah, her fiancé is slow to understand the truth, and only a few friends stand by her. Heartbroken and disillusioned, Hannah flees the community to find a long-lost relative, leaving plenty of loose ends dangling to be picked up in the sequel, WHEN THE MORNING COMES.
Some nice subplots abound, leaving room for fleshing them out in future installments in the series. Hannah’s brother Luke is in love with Mary Yoder, one of Hannah’s best friends, and marriage seems certain. A terrible buggy accident jeopardizes their future together. Hannah’s desire to help Mary recover from her injuries by assisting with her physical therapy leads to a newfound fascination with medical knowledge that causes her to yearn for more. Yet another subplot: Matthew Esh, a good friend of Hannnah’s who sticks by her in her troubles, is in love with Elle Leggett, an Englischer who was brought up in the Amish tradition. But Elle is concerned that Matthew and Hannah are much more than friends. Can this romance be saved?
At the end of WHEN THE HEART CRIES is a helpful glossary that acquaints the reader with the Pennsylvania Dutch terminology used throughout. Woodsmall includes some nice details in her story. Hannah and Mary work on a “Past and Future” quilt, whose composition will interest quilters and readers of Amish literature. (“Past and Future” quilts in Woodsmall’s story integrate materials used in childhood clothing with fabric currently in use. Members of the community contribute material that ties into the engaged couple’s life in a meaningful way to be used in the quilt.)
Woodsmall also incorporates some good spiritual lessons throughout her novel, particularly the ugly power of gossip, the reminder that appearances may be misleading, and the value of true friendship. The resolution of Hannah’s biggest problem may seem too easy for some readers, but it sets the stage for WHEN THE MORNING COMES. However, the ending will leave the reader longing to know what’s next for Hannah, her friends and her Amish community.
--- Reviewed by Cindy Crosby. Contact Cindy at email@example.com.
Click here now to buy this book from Amazon.com.