I have discovered that I enjoy reading stories (mostly romances) that take place in the Amish country. They provide insight into a society that often seems a complete throwback to a time of 150 years ago (or more)…a society that I don’t understand. However, as I read them, it also becomes clear that members of that society have similar problems to friends.
The Scent of Cherry Blossoms by Cindy Woodsmall is part of that genre. I started it, expecting it to follow a pretty similar format to previous ones. In many ways it does.
But there’s a difference in this one–an unexpected difference.
I had always thought that the Amish and Mennonite faith traditions were pretty close cousins, that the primary differences dealt with the use of cars and electricity. That’s true–but there are deeper differences as well, and they are clearly expressed in the relationship between the two young people whose relationship is at the heart of this novel.
Both of the characters (Old Order Mennonite Annie Martin and Old Order Amish Aden Burkholder) are faithful members of their faith tradition and have no intention of doing anything to damage that relationship. But, because they are thrown together in a situation not of their making, they begin to develop romantic feelings for each other. The rest of the book is the story of their struggle –to allow that romance to continue to develop (which has the potential of creating significant challenges to their relationship with their faith communities) or to deny their hearts.
There is no final answer, but the interweaving of the families and the faith traditions is a fascinating look at the diversities in a society that often seems monolithic to outsiders.
This book was provided free of charge from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group in exchange for reviewing it.