Amy Clipston. The Courtship Basket. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2016. See here to buy the book.
The Courtship Basket is the second book of Amy Clipson’s “Amish Heirloom” series. Book 1, The Forgotten Recipe, focused on Veronica and her relationship with Jason, after the death of Seth, who was Veronica’s fiancee and Jason’s friend and co-worker. (See my review here.) Book 2 focuses on Rachel, Veronica’s sister.
Rachel is upset after her boyfriend David breaks up with her to be with her best friend. Rachel teaches school, and there she meets Mike. Mike is the older half-brother of John, who is in Rachel’s class. Mike has assumed a lot of responsibility over his household, for there is no mother in the home, his father is sick, and Mike is reluctant to ask people for help. When John acts up in class, Rachel meets with Mike, and the two of them get off to a rocky start in their relationship. Over time, Rachel makes meals for Mike’s family, and Rachel and Mike become friends. As their friendship develops into something more, a misunderstanding will threaten their relationship.
There were a variety of noteworthy details in this book. For one, the idea of parents and teachers communicating with each other through a journal was somewhat new to me, though I suppose it is not too different from teachers leaving notes on report cards. Second, the contrast an observer made between how Mike acted around Rachel and how David acted around Rachel was a sweet scene. Mike was clearly more interested in Rachel than David had been. Third, the book was about how difficult it is to move on from baggage from the past. Because Rachel had been hurt by David, that would influence how she would view and respond in another relationship. Fourth, there is Mike’s father, who wants for Mike to enjoy life and is saddened that Mike’s taking care of him may be taking Mike away from happiness. Fifth, there are scenes in which Mike’s father wants to enjoy life himself and yet has to think about his poor health. He wants a slice of pizza, for example!
Sixth, the Amish in this book use telephones and refrigerators. Some Amish communities are more open to certain forms of technology.
Seventh, the book ends on a mystery, like the first book of the series. And, by the way, the mystery in the first book was not resolved in this second book. In this second book, the mystery concerns why Rachel’s mother and father lived apart shortly after getting married. A lot of mysteries are going on! Will they be resolved in a future book? Maybe the mysteries intersect with each other.
The book was okay. It had good things, but it was not particularly eventful. It could also be repetitive. And the high-schoolish themes of “Does he or she like like me” (my paraphrase) could get rather old.
The prose is dignified, as Amy Clipston’s prose usually is. Perhaps the book would have been better had more gone on in the plot, or had the characters reflected on more things or different facets of what they liked to reflect on, as opposed to the same things over and over. That would have rounded the characters out more. Maybe some psychological analysis would have been helpful for the reader: for instance, why was Rachel so hesitant to communicate with Mike about the misunderstanding?
I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.