I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by Bethany House. 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.The Proving by Beverly Lewis
Published by Baker Publishing Group on September 5th 2017
Genres: Amish & Mennonite, Christian, Fiction, General, Religious
Source: Bethany House
Amish Fiction's #1 Author Presents a Touching Story of Perseverance and Second ChancesAmanda Dienner hasn't seen her Old Order family in five years when she receives word that her mother has passed away and left her Lancaster County's most popular Amish bed-and-breakfast. Now an Englisher, Mandy is shocked: Her twin sister should have been the obvious choice! What's more, the inheritance comes with a catch: The farmhouse inn will only truly be hers if she is able to successfully run it for twelve consecutive months.
Mandy accepts the challenge even though it means returning to Gordonville and the painful memories she left behind at eighteen. Still, she's determined to prove she is more than capable of running the bed-and-breakfast, no matter that its loyal clientele are expecting an Amish hostess!
The inn isn't Mandy's sole test, however. Rubbing shoulders with her married twin sister reopens wounds that Mandy isn't ready to forgive. And an Englisher guest with a difficult past of her own just complicates matters.
Can Mandy fulfill the terms of her inheritance? Or will this year in Amish country prove a dreadful mistake?
I sit down to write this review, after staying up half the night because I NEEDED to finish it, and am at a loss for words. Yes, need in all caps is the right word to use there. Why need? Because I said so? Grabbing a couple of chapters in the car before work, a chapter on lunch here and there, a couple of chapters before passing out in bed with burn-y eyes (is so a word!) wasn’t helping me to find out how Mandy and Arie’s relationship originally broke and what, if anything would actually repair it. Those few chapters here and there weren’t helping me figure out why Mamma willed the B&B to Mandy to begin with or how she was going to navigate the stipulations of inheriting the Inn. I needed to know if her family, her community, even her guests ever came to embrace her as a whole. I needed to know so many many things that a few chapters here and there wasn’t cutting it. So, instead of ‘sleeping all the hours’ I’d proclaimed I would do with my extended weekend I read most of them. And the reading? Worth so much more than the sleep. However I will vehemently deny I EVER said that!
Having finished ‘The Proving’ in the wee hours this morning I just have to get this off my chest. It was too easy. Mandy’s 12 months were too easy. They were hard, I get that, but they were too easy. I get there was a lot, I mean a LOT, of hardship as she navigated her way from her English world to her roots in the Amish world. Just the emotional toll of facing what she had left behind in a rush of deep hurts. And then being abandoned again by people who were in place to help her, well all but the outside help. They kept coming, without any interaction from her, without any acknowledgement from her, which I think made things too easy. Keeping the acquiescing yard and barn help ultimately lightened the burden of the experience. Navigating the edges of her torn family relationships, which had to be wrapped in a layers of uncertainty and doubt, was too easy. It wasn’t easy but there was a depth of emotion that I felt was missing with Mandy. Her hesitancy and uncertainty were forefront but it just lacked something for me. And for the love of tomatoes, Lewis held onto the reason behind her flight from home until the near end. I was tempted so many times to flip ahead and figure out where this little nugget of knowledge would finally be revealed. Until then I sometimes thought of Mandy as a bit petty and unyielding. Which, of course, layered on the hardship.
Let’s talk about Trina while we are at it. That girl is a heaping helping of mess piled on with a thick layer of caustic kindness. I get it, that’s almost an oxymoron but it’s true. She’s hateful and condescending one moment and then gentle and helpful the next. The girl made my head spin! I feel like she took her friendship and opportunities that she had with Mandy for granted and ultimately slighted her at the end. Mandy didn’t see it that way, I don’t think anyone in the book saw it that way but I totally felt hurt by a choice she made. All that said I don’t dislike this book. I actually loved this book.
I loved characters with depth and personality. I loved characters with flaws and emotions. I can’t imagine leaving literally everything I know, including way of life, to embark on a journey halfway across the country with no ties, no world skills, and such a deep hurt of betrayal from the people I loved most. I can’t begin to imagine myself being successful at it either! Mandy did all of that and also returned to the ‘scene of the crime’ so to speak with mostly tactful grace despite the uncertainty and the over-carrying hurts. Seriously, this book, despite the flaw of easiness, is one I’d recommended for almost anyone who just needs to be reminded that sometimes even the hurts are in God’s time and in his care.