Book Review: Fraying at The Edge

14 Nov

unknownThe Old Order Amish life Ariana Brenneman loved vanished virtually overnight with the discovery that she was switched at birth twenty years ago. Now she’s immersed in the Englischer world, getting to know her mother and under the authority of her biological father, an atheist intellectual with resolute plans to expand Ariana’s worldview. Only Quill Schlabach, a childhood friend living Englisch, can steady the tilting ground between Ariana’s two worlds, but can she trust him after so many betrayals?

At the same time, Skylar Nash is forced to choose rehab or spend several months with her true relatives, the large Brenneman family and their seemingly backward life—no electricity, no technology, no fun. What the young woman can’t leave behind is her addiction to illegal prescription drugs and a deep emptiness from the belief that she doesn’t belong in either family.

New ties are binding Ariana and Skylar to the lives they were meant to have. Can they find the wisdom and strength they’ll need to follow God’s threads into unexpected futures?

Fraying at the Edge is the second novel in The Amish of Summer Grove series.

816nu3lsh7l-_ux250_Cindy Woodsmall is a New York Times, CBA, ECPA, and USA Today best-selling author who has written seventeen (and counting!) works of fiction and one of nonfiction. She and her dearest Old Order Amish friend, Miriam Flaud, coauthored the nonfiction, Plain Wisdom: An Invitation into an Amish Home and the Hearts of Two Women. Cindy has been featured on ABC Nightline and on the front page of the Wall Street Journal,and has worked with National Geographic on a documentary concerning Amish life. In June of 2013, the Wall Street Journal listed Cindy as the one of the top three most popular authors of Amish fiction.

She’s won Fiction Book of the Year, Reviewer’s Choice Awards, Inspirational Reader’s Choice Contest, as well as one of Crossings’ Best Books of the Year. She’s been a finalist for the prestigious Christy, Rita, and Carol Awards, Christian Book of the Year, and Christian Retailers Choice Awards.

Her real-life connections with Amish Mennonite and Old Order Amish families enrich her novels with authenticity. Though she didn’t realize it at the time, seeds were sown years ago that began preparing Cindy to write these books. At the age of ten, while living in the dairy country of Maryland, she became best friends with Luann, a Plain Mennonite girl. Luann, like all the females in her family, wore the prayer Kapp and cape dresses. Her parents didn’t allow television or radios, and many other modern conveniences were frowned upon. During the numerous times Luann came to Cindy’s house to spend the night, her rules came with her and the two were careful to obey them — afraid that if they didn’t, the adults would end their friendship. Although the rules were much easier to keep when they spent the night at Luann’s because her family didn’t own any of the forbidden items, both sets of parents were uncomfortable with the relationship and a small infraction of any kind would have been enough reason for the parents to end the relationship. While navigating around the adults’ disapproval and the obstacles in each other’s lifestyle, the two girls bonded in true friendship that lasted into their teen years, until Cindy’s family moved to another region of the US.

As an adult, Cindy became friends with a wonderful Old Order Amish family who opened their home to her. Although the two women, Miriam and Cindy, live seven hundred miles apart geographically, and a century apart by customs, when they come together they never lack for commonality, laughter, and dreams of what only God can accomplish through His children. Over the years Cindy has continued to make wonderful friendships with those inside the Amish and Mennonite communities–from the most conservative ones to the most liberal.

Cindy and her husband reside near the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains in their now empty nest.

If you’d like more information or to contact her, you can go to her website: or Facebook


My Impressions:

Cindy Woodsmall has long been a favorite of my book club. If she has a book out, we will read it. We read/discussed Ties That Bind in September and knew we had to read book 2, Fraying at The Edge, sooner rather than later. And while we liked this book, we didn’t think it was as good as book 1. We really couldn’t put our finger on why, just that it didn’t hold our attention as much as the first in the series. Will we read book 3, Gathering The Threads, when it comes out in August 2017? You bet! We have to find out what happens to Arianna and Skylar and who they may end up with.

While Ties That Bind examined how families impact the emotional and spiritual growth of a person, Fraying at The Edge looked at how we react when our beliefs are challenged. Both Skylar and Arianna are thrust into alien worlds with few points of reference. In Arianna’s case, not only is she forced to learn a brand new way of life, her deeply held religious views are attacked. Both characters grew in positive ways, despite the rollercoaster emotions and resistance they put up. The fallout of this will surely be presented in the next installment of the series.

One thing we didn’t like was the lack of interaction between Skylar and her Amish parents. Arianna’s story heavily featured the new relationship between her and her biological parents. But Skylar has few scenes with her biological parents; almost none with her father. Not sure if this was an oversight by Woodsmall or a statement on the differing parenting styles of Amish and Englisch.

Overall, we liked Fraying at The Edge. Have you read this book? What did you think.


Audience: older teens to adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

(I purchase this book from Amazon. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)



%d bloggers like this: