Wednesday, November 9, 2011

“Along Wooded Paths” A Big Sky Series by Tricia Goyer

A Big Sky Series, Book Two, “Along Wooded Paths” by Tricia Goyer does not disappoint at all.  Book One is “Beside Still Waters” and is all about Marianna and her family moving from the plains of Indiana to the mountainous region of Montana.  Each book can be read on its own, but to get the true feeling of this book, these books should be read as the series in order.  By doing so gives us the true meaning of this complete story.
I love this series so much because of the way it is written.  I love Tricia Goyer’s style of writing, and in this genre, she has the characters come to life and jump off the pages at us.  We can feel what they feel, think what they are thinking and even ask ourselves what the character are asking themselves.  She has proven herself to be very talented at writing an Amish series, and these are by far no cookie-cutter stories like some Amish Fiction can be.  This series of books is completely different from any of the other Amish books I have read so far.  It is so different that it gets deep into the nitty-gritty of the characters.  She even adds a little suspense in this story as it reads along.
I have read some of the reviews on this book and I want to address the romance, or some say, lack, thereof.  There is not a lack of romance in this book at all, if you follow along, but more so what makes this book so good is the ‘anticipation and suspense’ of the love that has developed and is developing, and the love to come, and with whom.  If you want the traditional Amish romance that tends to turn out predictable, then go grab a different author’s book where the stories all start to sound alike and are predictable.  This book is not like that at all.  Predictable, not at all!  I guess I want to call this book a ‘mature’, grown-up version' of Amish books and it deserves every bit of that title.  I really hope to see Tricia Goyer writer more books in the Amish genre.  This has been so refreshing and entertaining, kind of like a curve-ball in Amish Fiction!  I like this a lot!
This book has brought us to a city in Montana where the Amish and the English interact and live among each other without the usual tensions that other Amish communities seem to have.  They, the Englischers and the Amish all sit down together at the same tables in a restaurant and have dinner together.  They are friends that can count on each other.  You will find them doing things together, even going to prayer meetings together and having get-togethers.  This is such an enjoyable read, maybe even more realistic than just fiction.  The sense of community really shines through in this story.
In this series, Tricia Goyer has us feel what these characters feel and draws us right into their lives.  Between the two books in this series, so far this book has been, by far, my favorite.  I am dying to read Book Three, which will be called “Beyond Hopes Valley”.  I am sure, after reading this third book; it will then be my favorite!  Each book just gets better and better.
In this book the story line has taken hold, developed and gets us living in Montana with these characters.  This is a book I could sit down and read a second time and enjoy it just as much!  How refreshing to read such a masterpiece in Amish Fiction!  I sure hope she writes more of this genre!  I found myself talking out loud to these characters’ which only happens when I am really into a great book!
Now that Marianna and her family are living in Montana, they are all falling into the pattern of daily life.  Marianna meets a man named Ben, who is an Englischer.  He teaches Marianna that it is possible to have a personal relationship with God, rather than just the Amish way of thinking about God, and the Amish don’t teach this concept.  She is enjoying this very much; so much so, she even sneaks out one night in order to go to the prayer meeting.  The prayer meeting is mixed with the Amish and the Outsiders.  Marianna finds herself finding this prayer meeting very rewarding as she forms her own personal relationship with God, thanks to Ben who introduced her to it.  She has found a sense of freedom in learning to have a personal relationship with God.
Marianna is being drawn closer to Ben.  She really likes him, but there is still Aaron back in Indiana to whom she has pledged her heart to, yet she is finding she really likes it in Montana.
Even though this group of Amish that Marianna’s family moved to here in Montana is so different from the ‘typical’ Amish communities, they still follow the laws of the Amish, so if Marianna were to allow herself to fall in love and marry Ben, an outsider, she would be excommunicated from the church and her family, just like her brother, Levi, who in the end may or may not go back to being Amish.  His parents are praying that he does return to the Amish community as they did lose two other children already, but I can’t give spoilers on this great book.  However, I do feel Ben loves Marianna.  She would never hear of this, though, even though deep down this very same thought has crossed her mind, and she has wondered if perhaps she might love him.  Neither of these characters has said anything about this subject to the other, just thought it, but she would never allow herself to fall in love with Ben because of the threat of the excommunication.  She loves her family and her faith too much to be able to accept a life like that.
Marianna thinks of Ben as having served his purpose in that he has taught her to have a personal relationship with God.  This is all that Ben can be.  Nothing more, yet he does enter her thoughts.  When Marianna returns to Indiana, Ben will always have a soft spot in her heart for him.
I wonder if Ben, and if I remember correctly, Ben has entertained the thought of whether or not he could become Amish.  If that were to occur, then Marianna could fall in love with him.  It is so unusual for an Englischer to turn Amish, though, that it rarely happens.
Later towards the end of the book, we see Aaron come to Montana to see Marianna.  She is delighted.  She decides to go back home to Indiana, planning on spending the rest of her life with him.  She has a few misgivings.  Why?  Trust is one of those misgivings, but why does she feel this way?  She happily leaves Montana, hugging and kissing all of her newfound friends’ goodbye and leaves with Aaron to head back to Indiana to start planning her new life with Aaron, planning the Wedding.  This is pretty much where our story leaves off without, again, giving any spoilers.
I cannot say enough or recommend this book anymore than I already have!
We do get a glimpse into Chapter One of the next, third book!  This, I will leave for you to read!  I think I can guess one thing, but I won’t say!  I can only say, again, I can’t wait for Book Three to come out!
I hope for Amish Fiction lovers you get the opportunity to read this series and treasure it!  It is one you will not put down till you have read it all.  I HIGHLY recommend this book and give it 5 stars!  Tricia Goyer has proven, once again, her writing skills are so talented!
I received this book for “FREE” from B & H Publishing through NetGalley, through their Book Reviewer’s Program in exchange to read and write a review about this book.  It is NOT required for my review I write to be either positive or negative, but, “of my own opinion.”  I was NOT provided with “ANY” monies to accept this book, “NOR” to read it, NOR were “ANY” monies given to me to write the review for this book.  All that was ‘expected’ of me was to enjoy the pure pleasure of reading it.  Again, the opinions expressed for and about this book are ‘of my own opinion’.  I am disclosing this information in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

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