Book Write-Up: A Dream of Miracles, by Ruth Reid

Ruth Reid.  A Dream of Miracles: An Amish Wonders Novel.  Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2016.  See here to buy the book.

Mattie Diener is a widow and a single parent, and she is Amish.  She takes her young son Nathan to the doctor, and the doctor tells Mattie to take Nathan to the emergency room immediately.  When the doctor believes that Mattie did not do so quickly enough, the doctor calls Child Protective Services.  When bruises show up on Nathan, people suspect that Mattie is physically abusing him.

Bo Lambright works for Child Protective Services.  He is assigned to Mattie’s case.  There is an attraction between them, and Bo does not believe that Mattie is the type of person who would abuse her son.  Bo is hesitant to pursue a relationship with Mattie because the two of them are from different worlds.  Plus, Bo is afraid to have children because he himself was physically abused when he was a child, and he fears that he would be an abuser.  Bo’s “mother” (I’ll leave it at that because I do not want to give out spoilers) is a judge, continually concerned about her reputation.  She does not care for Bo stirring the pot to defend Mattie, when many people think she is guilty.

Overall, this is a compelling the novel.  The scene in which Mattie is questioned by the police and they twist her words against her made me identify with her vulnerability.  Mattie’s halting attempt to hope in God throughout her trials is also noteworthy.  The book also has an anti-fracking sub-plot, which pleases my left-leaning tendencies.

There were occasions when I questioned how realistic the plot was, but that could be on account of my own naivety.  I do not recall the police reading Mattie her Miranda rights before questioning her.  Later, she did have a public defender, but I do not recall her being offered a lawyer when she was initially questioned.

Later in the book, I learn something about Bo’s background that took me completely by surprise.  Although Bo had dreams earlier in the book that Ruth Reid may have included to foreshadow the surprise, Reid could have done more to prepare readers for the surprise.  Also, I do not know if a particular scene in the book was Bo dreaming or was a real event.  That does add a surreal, intriguing element to the book, but it was a bit confusing.

The scenes in which Bo comes to terms with his past, thanks his “mother,” and makes a decision about the future were especially moving.

I am interested in reading more novels by Ruth Reid.

I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher through BookLook Bloggers, in exchange for an honest review.


About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. I study the History of Biblical Interpretation at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio, as part of its Ph.D. program. I have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting.
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