This book review of When the Heart Cries by Cindy Woodsmall is my Goodreads’ review with comments at the end, and links to two related posts about the Amish.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Library copy. My first read of this author. The first page did not impress me, and (no spoilers) it started with a bang, before letting the reader get to know the characters. Just my first impressions. I’m still reading 🙂
This is a really hard one to review. I have read a couple of Amish fiction books, but this one seemed quite dark to me. Now I’ve put off writing the review for awhile, hoping that it would seem lighter to me. I do realize it is the first of a series, so hopefully things turn a bit brighter. I will definitely read the rest of the series.
As I said, this is my first read of this author. I do not particularly care for her style. I appreciated the Glossary of Amish words, but wished it were in the front of the book. While the author went to a good length to infuse the book with Amish-ness in verbage and conversation, the writing itself could have shown more of the natural environment to the reader. I also like a chapter heading, a verse or quote or something distinctive to the chapter.And the title? I don’t remember that it connected any where in the book.
The book is busy and conversational and touchy. Especially being Amish I though there was too much physical description, and Hannah had quite the knack for being found in compromising situations. This book has more than its share of tragedy, for all its Amish-ness.
The thing that confused me most was the lack of a strong faith character in the Amish community. I understand that not all Amish are Christians, and it seemed that the Mennonites in the story were, but I would like to have had someone who was in the Amish community, or Hannah herself. In all it was a bit more mystical than about having a personal relationship with God Himself.
Now that I’ve made mincemeat of the book…I did enjoy it from a story point of view. The reader never knew what was coming next, and of course the tragic event in the beginning is the underlying catalyst in the book, though it is not made public. It just wasn’t handled the way I thought it would be, but every Amish district is an authority unto itself.
I recommend this book as a good clean read with a quickly moving story. Sister of the Quilt, Book Two coming up!
Just a few comments:
Just after I finished reading When the Heart Cries, I read an interview of one of my Twitter followers, Kaylene Yoder, who was raised Amish. I found it enlightening, especially when compared to the story in Woodsmall’s book.
The interview, Kaylene’s Amish Culture and Faith, is on Kim Adams Morgan’s blog, Pouring Down Like Rain. Kim is a newer follower of mine on Twitter. I hope you will take time to read it. It will take a few minutes, but is time well spent.
The Quid Pro Quills blog, whose multiple authors are also on Twitter, posted Why Amish Fiction? just days after my reading of Woodsmall’s Amish fiction. It is written by Pegg Thomas. The post is brief, but it is the comments which caught my attention. With Pegg’s permission, I quote her here:
People assume that all Amish are Christians. But sitting in church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than sitting in your garage will make you an automobile. There are plenty of Amish who have put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ. I know some of them! There are also Amish who believe that they will be saved only by their own good works. But then … we could say the same of every church. The Amish are people first, with all the issues people everywhere have.