Beverly Lewis. The Wish. Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 2016. See here to purchase the book.
The Wish is the latest Amish fiction novel by Beverly Lewis. It is largely set in Lancaster County, where there is a sizeable Amish community.
Leona Speicher enjoyed spending time with the Gingeriches more than her own family, for she felt accepted among the Gingeriches. Leona especially had a bond with Gloria Gingerich, the daughter of the family. When the patriarch of the Gingerich family, Arkansas Joe, was shunned by the Amish community, he and his family left. Leona did not hear from Gloria for years, until one day, she received a letter from Gloria. Leona paid a visit to the Gingerich family, which had ceased being Amish and had instead embraced mainstream ways. When Gloria visits the Amish community with Leona, Gloria comes to terms with what she left behind, and her regret that her family left the Amish community.
This book covered beautiful themes. There is Leona’s eventual embrace of her own taciturn family, and her parents’ acceptance of her. Gloria’s visit to Lancaster County evoked a profound sense of nostalgia and longing, though those elements were drawn out a bit too much. The novel effectively conveyed Gloria’s feeling of being at home within the Amish community. And the book was moving when it covered the themes of accepting people on a different path, and making restitution to those one has harmed.
The scene in which Leona visits the post-Amish Gingeriches and sees them sitting at the table in the same order that they sat at it back when they were Amish was rather eerie.
The book also had interesting details: there are Amish farmers who follow the biblical land Sabbath by allowing their land to rest every seventh year, for example.
Whereas a number of Amish fiction novels, including some of the ones by Beverly Lewis, have a lot of characters and things going on, this novel had a manageable number of characters, while still staying interesting.
In terms of critiques, the book would have been better had it gone more deeply into certain spiritual themes. The question of whether one needs to be Amish to be a Christian is raised in this book, but the book should have at least attempted to provide an answer to that question, or at least more wrestling with it. Gloria was drinking in from an Amish devotional, and the book could have had more of a spiritual content had it informed readers about what themes Gloria was learning from her devotions.
The book was somewhat confusing in its characterization of Gloria. On the one hand, the book portrays her as a devout, spiritual person: she went to church after her family had ceased going, for instance. On the other hand, the book depicts her as wanting to return to the Amish to be with Leona, rather than for any spiritual reasons, and that contradicted the book’s portrayal of Gloria elsewhere: as a spiritual person who felt at home with Amish ways.
The book is still beautiful, however.
I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.