Beth Wiseman. Love Bears All Things. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2016. See here to buy the book.
Love Bears All Things is the second novel of the “Amish Secrets” series. The first novel of the series was Her Brother’s Keeper. I did not read the first novel, but I did buy it when it was on sale because I loved the second novel!
In Her Brother’s Keeper, Charlotte hears that her brother died in an Amish community, so she goes to that community to find out what happened. She pretends to be Amish, thinking that could help her to find answers. At first, she thinks that the Amish are a cultish group, but she comes to admire their faith.
In Love Bears All Things, people in that Amish community are distrustful of Charlotte, since they now know that she was pretending to be Amish all that time. Charlotte still has some friends from that community who have forgiven her, though. Charlotte has resumed her life in the outside world, and she is dealing with massive debt and a boyfriend who broke up with her. Amidst these struggles, an Amish young man from the Amish community, Jacob, shows up on her doorstep and announces that he is taking a break from the Amish! He wants to see the world! That prompts Charlotte to pay a visit to the community.
The book has its share of mysteries that encourage the reader to keep reading on. Is Jacob’s girlfriend Annie pregnant? Will they be shunned? Who is that mysterious person hanging around Charlotte’s old house in the Amish community? Who paid for Jacob to stay in an expensive hotel?
The book also has sweet or theologically notable scenes. There is the theme of unexpected love. Charlotte and Annie wrestle with the question of how God works and whether God is punishing. There is Edna, who is “searching for an amount of love that’s not humanly possible” (page 189). Themes of personal healing, forgiveness, and Amish views on the extent to which the Amish should adopt new technology also appear in this book.
The book’s prose is simple. It conveys the characters’ thoughts and feelings realistically, without getting too bogged down in wordy descriptions. A lot of their reflections came out in conversation. Perhaps the simple prose allowed the portraits of the characters’ thoughts and feelings to be more vivid, thereby enhancing the story. Reading this book was somewhat like watching a TV episode, albeit a good TV episode. (By the way, I loved the scene in which Jacob was watching The Big Bang Theory!)
Can one understand this novel without having read the previous novel in the series? I think so. This book refers to events in the previous book, but one can still pick up what happened. One can even like the characters in this book without having read the first one, as I did, but readers will probably appreciate the characters a lot more after reading the first book.
I can tell from this book that another book of the series is coming, since some things were unresolved in this book or could be developed further.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through Netgalley. My review is honest!