Despite all odds, Beverly Lewis deftly manages to wrap up the oft-troublesome and frequently heartwrenching tangles the Ebersol sisters endure as ever-emerging Amish women who one by one come to faith in Christ. In this fifth and final installment in the Abram's Daughters series, Lewis has a good deal of character issues to contend with. Not an easy matter. Even though the author set this tale in Lancaster County, the purist of Amish country itself, she has seen fit to embroil her heroines in single motherhood, excommunication, deceit, and witch doctoring --- not the "stuff" expected of a plain Amish family. As in her former titles, Lewis does provide a good amount of daily Amish flavor, complete with mouthwatering descriptions of the ample food served three times daily as well as the culture's strictly Amish colloquiums, which add a bit more colorful depth to the simple dialogue.
While Lewis executes her plot with careful skill, there are moments when the reader might wonder if all these divisive elements could possibly occur within one family. Yet they do...and more. Sadie, the once rebellious single mother of a thought-to-be stillborn son, hopes for an eventual reunion with her recently discovered living child. The tangle? Sadie's now-teenage son has fallen in love with Sadie's young sister, Lydiann, technically his aunt. Unbeknownst to either lover, they are too closely related to marry. So stew Sadie does, right along with her once alienated sister, Leah. Leah is joyfully anticipating a long-awaited reunion with her former love Jonas, who left Lancaster County years earlier and had supposedly married sister Sadie, which he didn't. Seems too much to unravel? At times it is, and some readers may find themselves struggling to remember what occurred in the previous books while attempting to make sense of the Ebersol sisters' current pain and plight.
The plot thickens as Abram's former sister-in-law and current wife Lizzie reveals to her daughter Leah the young woman's birth father. Astonishing or not, the local doctor who deceitfully placed Sadie's infant son with the feuding cousins of the Ebersols also turns out to be Leah's father...only he doesn't know it.
Hmmm...while Lewis knows how to spin a story with a graceful transparency, this tie-it-all-up ending to four previous books of unlikely happenings reads like a modern-day soap opera. Loose ends do resolve themselves and Lewis most aptly allows her readers to journey with each sister to a place of renewed and revitalized faith in Christ. However, the continual dips and curves each of the Ebersol sisters must face are almost ruinous to the story itself, and the poignant moments become lost amidst the never-ending storyline twists.
Lewis might have better presented this final offering with fewer wrinkles in the wash. Still, her fans will appreciate the long-awaited closure to this family's trek to their anticipated place of idyllic repose.
Reviewed by Michele Howe on June 1, 2005