Book Review: Beside Still Waters

6 Apr

Marianna Sommer believes she knows where her life is headed. Nineteen years old and Amish, her plan is to get baptized into the church, marry Aaron Zook, and live in the only community she’s ever known.

When Marianna’s family moves from Indiana to Montana she discovers life and faith will never be the same. As she builds an easy friendship with local guy, Ben Stone, Ben not only draws her heart, he also gets her thinking about what loving God and living in community is all about.

As Marianna struggles to find “home”, she also encounters God in intimate ways.

Tricia Goyer is the author of twenty-four books including Songbird Under a German MoonThe Swiss Courier, and the mommy memoir, Blue Like Play Dough. She won Historical Novel of the Year in 2005 and 2006 from ACFW, and was honored with the Writer of the Year award from Mt. Hermon Writer’s Conference in 2003. Tricia’s book Life Interrupted was a finalist for the Gold Medallion in 2005. In addition to her novels, Tricia writes non-fiction books and magazine articles for publications like MomSense and Thriving Family. Tricia is a regular speaker at conventions and conferences, and has been a workshop presenter at the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International Conventions. She and her family make their home in Little Rock, Arkansas where they are part of the ministry of FamilyLife.

My Impressions:

Wow!  What a great book!  I had to say that up front because some of you might think “not another Amish book”.  I know, there are a lot on the market, but Beside Still Waters by Tricia Goyer is not to be missed because it isn’t just another Amish book, it is sooo much more.

Marianna Sommer started out life at the scene of a tragic accident that killed her two older sisters, Marilynn and Joanna.  Named after both sisters, Marianna has grown up in the shadow of their brief lives.  Now 19 years old and determined to live a perfect Amish life, Marianna is thrown into a whole new world not of her choosing.

In so many books of this genre, the Englisch (or non-Amish) are portrayed as tempters seeking to lure the good Amish boy or girl from the true way.  Or they are merely props for  a story line.  But in Beside Still Waters, both Englisch and Amish are portrayed as real people, not stereotypes.  And Marianna’s preconceived notions of Amish versus English are thrown out the window when she moves to Montana.  Many of the Englisch she encounters have a relationship with God that she didn’t realize was even an option.  Told through Marianna’s letters and journals and a 3rd person perspective, the reader gets both perspectives — the real and the perceived.  And that is a great strength for the story.

The characters are wonderfully drawn with all their flaws and virtues right out in the open.  They really show what a life lived in close communion with God looks like versus a life living by rules alone.  And the Montana setting will make the reader call up their travel agent!

I encourage you to pick up Beside Still Waters.  It is a fantastic book that will have you turning the pages into the night.  One of the best books I have read this year!

Highly Recommended.

(I received Beside Still Waters from LitFuse in return for a review.  The opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Be sure to stop by Tricia’s Blog  It’s Real Life – she’s giving away 10 copies of the book and some (super cool) antique Amish salt & pepper shakers. Also – everyone who enters the contest will receive an Montana Amish calendar (while supplies last)!

Check out what other readers are saying about Beside Still Waters, click HERE.

4 Responses to “Book Review: Beside Still Waters”

  1. alexandra george April 6, 2011 at 8:43 am #

    thanks for this review, I don’t like amish fiction, but after what you said, I might give this one a try. God bless 🙂

  2. rbclibrary April 6, 2011 at 9:54 am #

    I am not a huge fan either. But there are two other authors that write in this genre that are excellent — Suzanne Woods Fisher and Cindy Woodsmall. Not your typical “Amish” stories.

  3. Brenda April 6, 2011 at 5:38 pm #

    Beckie, I have this one to read.I would like to add another amish fiction writer whose style is outside the box of normal Amish fiction, Kelly Long. Her stories are quite a bit edgier, and she has the ablility to write very realistic characters, and while the love story is there, she really pulls out the stops allowing you to feel the passion between the couple as they fall in love.

    • rbclibrary April 7, 2011 at 5:16 am #

      Brenda, thanks for the comment. I will definitely check out Kelly Long.

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