Join a class of unlikely Ohioans who take cooking lessons at Lyle and Heidi Troyer’s Amish farm. A woman engaged to marry, an expectant mother estranged from her family, a widowed mom seeking to simplify, a Vietnam vet who camps on the Troyer’s farm, and an Amish widower make up the mismatched lot of students. But Heidi’s cooking lessons soon turn to life lessons as they each share the challenges they are facing. Is this what God had in mind when Heidi got the idea for cooking classes?
Trying to figure out what I want to say about this book is hard. Within the first little bit I felt like Ron was a toad and Lyle was a push over. I was almost immediately annoyed with both of them. However, both played a pivotal role in building a wonderful feel good story. Let’s talk about my initial impressions of the rest of the cast, as well. Kendra, while her situation wasn’t in any way fair felt like a whiner, Loretta left me feeling wishy washy, Eli interested me, and Charlene seemed so at odds with her security with her career and hobbies while being so annoyingly insecure about her relationship. Of course they were so much more than that but that’s were I started with them. I was hoping they would do a lot of growing and changing and for the most part I was rewarded.
There are two things that draw me into a story and keep me engaged. Characters and the the actual story. If I can’t bond with the characters and feel like I know them (I don’t have to like them!) that hurts how I feel about the story. If I can’t bond with the story-line then it’s hard to really care what happens or how it turns out. The way this book was set up showing the different characters in their real lives, not just at cooking class grabbed my attention and made me invested in the story. I cared who these people were and wanted to know more about who they were, why they were there, and how it came to pass. I actually hope to see these characters again in future books since I really don’t feel like their stories are told. They just aren’t finished you know? There has to be more. The drawback, for me, however was that I don’t feel like I had a chance to truly bond with the characters. The characters were truly well developed and I came to like them all, I even changed my mind about a few, but there just wasn’t enough time with each of them. Giving them more time would have been a mini-series but I feel like the small glimpse weren’t quite enough. I lost some of that bond that makes me truly care about a character.
At the end of the day I still feel like Lyle is a push over, but not in a bad way. I feel like what Kendra’s family did was completely unacceptable but she’s still a bit whinny. Charlene redeemed herself a little bit at the end but I’m not sure I will ever grasp the change of heart her future mother-in-law had and feel like it left a gaping opening that wasn’t closed. Eli and Loretta’s story I saw coming from a mile away but it was OK because it just made sense. Ron, oh Ron. Ron redeemed himself, sorta, but I felt like it was just too easy. Lacking that ability to really delve into the characters left me with so many unanswered questions about Ron and feel like his revelation was too easy. He was too easy to explain it when I’m sure it was one of the hardest things he has even done. He was too easy to be off the hook. I’m happy for him and honestly, the man needs something too easy in his life.
This book started slow and I was frustrated for about the first part of the book. But as the characters started to grow for me the book came to life. I am so glad that I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by NetGalley. I was not compensated for this review and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I was not required to write a positive review. And I truly cannot wait to read the next book in the series!
About Wanda E. Brunstetter
Wanda E. Brunstetter is an award-winning, New York Times best-selling author of Amish and historical fiction. She’s also written Amish cookbooks, Amish-themed devotionals, and several children’s books with Amish characters.
Wanda E. Brunstetter writes about the Amish because they live a simple life, which she feels we all need in this day and age.
Wanda and her husband Richard, who grew up in a Mennonite church, have Amish friends in several Amish communities.
Besides writing books, Wanda’s a professional ventriloquist. In her spare time she photography, gardening, knitting, looking for shells and agates on the beach, and spending time with her family.
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