Saturday, May 21, 2011

Book Review: The Promise of an Angel

I’m so confused. It used to be, the only Amish books I read were by Beverly Lewis. It was all so simple then. Since I’ve been reviewing books, however, I’ve read several by different authors, and they all present the Amish in different ways. There are similarities to their rules and beliefs, but huge differences, too. Perhaps each of these authors lives near a different Amish community, and perhaps rules vary from area to area. I really don’t know. I just know it’s confusing when one author says the Amish are one way and another says they are different.

The Promise of An Angel portrays the Amish in the harshest way I’ve seen yet. Except for the two main characters and Samuel, the people in this book are nit-picky and critical, watching each other like hawks in order to pass judgment on one another all the time. They don’t seem to care about each other’s happiness and well-being, only following strict rules all the time. There is no love in this community—no compassion or care. Living in this community would be a nightmare.

After her little brother falls from the barn roof, Judith, first on the scene, sees an angel who gives her a cryptic message. When Judith, who does nothing but love God and care for the people around her, tells people what she saw, they accuse her of blasphemy and threaten to throw her out of the community. They decide she’s a danger to their children and their way of life. That seemed an extreme reaction to me.

I not only had concerns about the way the Amish were portrayed. I had concerns about the angel, too. Angels in the Bible clearly identified themselves to those they visited and delivered God’s messages in a straightforward manner. The people who encountered them knew who they were facing and why. The angel in the book, however, is vague and cryptic, giving Judith clues, but leaving her totally confused. At one point, Judith isn’t even sure he’s from God. She wonders if he’s Satan messing with her mind.

Thomas Nelson Publishers sent this book for my honest review. Though there are a few beautiful moments worth reading—Judith learning to forgive, Judith and Andrew praying together about their future and for their community—it’s still a book I hesitate to recommend.

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