This book covers three stories. Unfortunately, the first, "A Change of Heart," focuses too much on negative aspects of the main female, Leah, at a certain point in time, eventually leaving the reader with the impression that it's OK for her to actually shirk family responsibilities because she's a writer, even when she marries.
Not only that, Leah's message in her writings is supposedly Christian, showing, not telling, others about the Lord. This actually makes no sense. Either show and tell us, as readers, via the story, or move along to other fiction types or topics. In short, it's not OK to be so self absorbed that you are unaccountable for working within a family unit, either as a single or married person. And it's not OK to write about being Christian while you are not being one; i.e. that comes across as a hypocrite.
This story needs much better focus and more time in development phases. Certainly more happened in this main character's life than the last year or so with the total self absorption with writing, otherwise, the strict Amish parents would have stepped in sooner, as is custom. So go there: present a real character, one more rounded and believable. And make the character a Christian, not just a person writing about being a Christian. This could have helped the tone and storyline much more. Christian fiction needs to have the main characters be or become Christian at some point, or what is the point?
While the negativity of this first story was still a bit overwhelming for an Amish book found in the Inspirational Christian category of the Walden's bookstore, moving on to story #2, "When Winter Comes," isn't much better. Yes, someone died, a youth, but instead of a write up of the event, similar to the death in story #3 with Josiah's `mamm,' we are hit over the head with it multiple times, dragging mourning out over 5 years while everyone needs to hand-hold the main character, Rebecca. Yes, this is fiction, but in the real world, that doesn't happen - or rarely so, as life moves on at a fast pace. To fictionalize it otherwise, especially with Amish culture, seems to focus on something too difficult to believe at any level. Again, we're talking Amish here. Amish move on. They don't focus on such a theme as this for so long. Touch on it in the story, sure. Carry mourning in the heart for years, sure. But have plenty of other activity - -LIFE - going on, as it does in the last story with Amanda and Josiah. Otherwise, what's the point: dragging readers into negative depths from story one, then on to story two?
Once the first two stories are read, the third, "A Place of His Own," is a welcome relief, a solid Amish tale of two young people building on a past relationship. There is plenty of Amish spirit, helping one another, forgiveness, moving ahead. And there is plenty of healthy Amish interaction of children, neighbors, relatives. Worth hanging in there to read, this story is the best of the three by far. Had the other two stories tried to emulate this one, the entire book would have been a 5-star publication. This story reflects the true essence Amish for today's Inspirational Christian shelves of Walden's and other book stores. Well done.