Book Review: A Plain Man by Mary Ellis
Caleb Beachy has returned to his Ohio Amish community after five years on rumschpringe, that time when an Amish youth is allowed to experience the world and decide if he or she will commit to Amish beliefs. Caleb brings with him five years of regret and struggles to fit in.
(This novel can be read just fine on its own, but the story really begins with a novella, Sarah’s Christmas Miracle, which tells the story of Sarah Beachy’s attempt to bring her brother Caleb home.)
Okay, I have a confession. This is the first time I’ve ever read an Amish novel. Yes, I know, I’m the only Christian on the planet, but it’s never been a genre of interest to me. However, I received A Plain Man in the mail and … well, who can pass up reading a free book?
I still can’t claim to be a fan of Amish fiction, although, I enjoyed reading about Caleb’s struggle—one that most young people deal with no matter the background. Don’t we all have youthful regrets?
This isn’t a typical Christian romance. In fact, the romance really doesn’t begin until quite a bit into the book, and then it’s secondary. Even though Caleb’s love interest plays an important role in helping him discover where he stands with God, his family, and his past, this is a story about a young man (he’s 24) who goes astray, then must convince himself and a whole community that he’s changed. It’s really a story about growing up and fitting in. It’s a family story.
In the beginning, Caleb deals with his relationship with his father, a man whose opinion of Englischers left me feeling guilty for being one. Although the relationship problems were necessary to the story, it wasn’t until about a third of the way into the book that I found myself totally engaged in Caleb’s life.
While I assumed which world he would eventually choose, the author did a good job of keeping that grain of doubt rubbing against my confidence. Would he remain Amish or go back to his Englisch life a changed and better man? And would Josie agree to live with that horrible tattoo?
Even if you’re not a reader of Amish fiction, I’m sure you’ll find something to relate to in this novel about finding God’s grace and forgiveness, whether you’re Englisch or A Plain Man.
Do you read Amish fiction? What is that attracts you to the genre—or the lifestyle?
Disclosure of Material Connection: This book came to me free from the author, Mary Ellis, and the publisher, Harvest House, with the hope that I would mention it on this blog. There was no requirement for me to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.