After more than two years away from her Amish community, 20-year-old Hannah Lapp reluctantly returns to face her family and estranged fiancé in WHEN THE SOUL MENDS, Cindy Woodsmall’s intriguing third installment of love and forgiveness in the Sisters of the Quilt series.
Woodsmall includes an updated cast of characters that will help readers pick up the loose ends of the story left dangling in book two, WHEN THE MORNING COMES. These are not stand-alone novels, so you’ll want to read the series in order. The series storyline is full of romance, tragedies and misunderstandings. In book one, WHEN THE HEART CRIES, we meet 17-year-old Hannah Lapp, an Old Order Amish girl engaged to Paul Waddell, a college student and Mennonite. A chain of tragedies causes Hannah to flee her family’s farm in Pennsylvania, looking for a new start and a home with her estranged aunt in Ohio. WHEN THE MORNING COMES follows Hannah as she makes her way to Alliance, Ohio, and creates a new life for herself. She completes her education and finds her identity in the medical field. As she blossoms, following her dreams Hannah also discovers she can love again.
WHEN THE SOUL MENDS opens as Hannah heads for Owl’s Perch and her friends and family in the Amish community after being called home when a friend is seriously injured. To her surprise, “life seemed to have changed for everyone else as much as it had for her.” She’s determined to be independent and unhurt by anything her family and friends might say or do: “They’d trampled her spirit once. She’d not give them another chance.”
Woodsmall follows Hannah as she navigates the touchy relational territory between herself, her family and her Amish community. She also continues the secondary storylines in the previous books: the off-and-on-again romance between Matthew and Elle, the guardianship Martin and Hannah now have over Faye’s children after Faye deserted the family, the complicated pregnancy of Mary, and the serious mental problems of Hannah’s sister Sarah.
As Sarah spends time in her Amish community, she revisits places associated with the horrors of her past and lays a few ghosts to rest. However, for fans of the series, the main attraction will be the reuniting of Hannah and Paul, and the reconciliation they must accomplish. Both must forgive the other. But will the love they lost be rekindled, or will they each build a life with someone new? As Hannah and Paul ponder forgiveness for those who have wronged them, Hannah asks, “Is it possible that faith in God over our future must outweigh our feelings in the things of today? And maybe there are lots of types of forgiveness just like there are lots of types of love.” Readers will be glued until the final pages, wanting to find out who ends up with who.
Throughout the series, Woodsmall reminds readers of the power of forgiveness, the importance of honesty, the damage that guilt can do, and the devastating results of long-held misunderstandings. She also throws in a few surprises, and some of the romances between characters come to unexpected conclusions. The ending provides a good dose of redemption and some needed closure. Although this trilogy ends, fans will be happy to see that a new Amish series appears to be in the works as well (a sample chapter is included at the end of the book). Stay tuned.
Reviewed by Cindy Crosby on November 13, 2011