Saturday, October 1, 2016

The Devoted by Suzanne Woods Fisher


Bright, curious, and restless, Ruthie Stoltzfus loves her family but is stuck in a sea of indecision about her future: Should she stay Amish? Or should she leave? She’s done all she can to prepare to go–passed the GED, saved her money–but she can’t quite set her journey into motion.

Patrick Kelly is a young man on a journey of his own. He’s come to Stoney Ridge to convert to the Amish and has given himself thirty days to learn the language, drive a buggy, and adapt to “everything Plain.” Time, to Patrick, is of the essence. Every moment is to be cherished, especially the hours he spends with Ruthie, his Penn Dutch tutor.

Ruthie’s next-door neighbor and cunning ex-boyfriend, Luke Schrock, is drawn to trouble like a moth to a flame. Rebellious, headstrong, defiant, Luke will do anything to win Ruthie back–anything–and Patrick Kelly is getting in his way.
(excerpt from back of book)

It's official. While I may not be a fan of Amish fiction as a genre, I am an enormous fan of Suzanne Woods Fisher! 
Honestly, her series The Bishop's Family  has completely won me over between the solid and endearing characters, the plot line with teachable moments that make me feel as though I'm at the Stoltzfus table rather than being preached at, and the absolutely wonderful Stoney Creek providing the perfect setting.

One of Fisher's strengths is her characters. I jumped for joy when I realized that, unlike it's predecessors, The Devoted showed a heavier emphasis on Ruthie and Jesse.  Jesse has been my series underdog and I adore watching his growth as he navigated life with apprentices and finally addressed his situation with Mim. Ruthie also came  into her own in this book, I really appreciated th honest wrestling Ruthie undergoes when she considers her future,  Fisher may have her family written firmly within the Amish genre but Ruthie's struggle to find her place is one anyone who's wrestled with where their life is going can relate with.  
While the 2 year gap in plot between The Quieting  and The Devoted was jarring at first it really did make good sense story wise as the younger siblings had to develop properly before they could take center stage and the quick summery and reminiscing was more than enough to make up the gap.

Once again I found myself caught up in Fisher's story line. This is another one of her strengths and one that I feel more secure in pointing out as I see the story unfolding throughout the series and not just within a self contained novel. I love how Fisher's stories don't feel like a story and a sermon, While she incorporates so many teachable moments, I often felt like a friend or family member sitting around the table and joining in on one of David's discussions. I love that! I've read so many stories where the flow and immersion into a story are disrupted in order to add a sermon or some sort of biblical teaching, Fisher's ability to weave these together so beautifully just adds to the experience. In fact, this entire book was a beautiful example of weaving and balance, Between Ruthie considering of life outside and Patrick's exploration of Amish life, Dok's life  in and out of Stoney Ridge, and David's tension over community life  there was more than enough to keep this reader hooked until well after midnight.

If anyone's looking for a great autumn read or maybe getting a jump start on Christmas shopping. The Bishop's Family  is a solid series full of characters who leap off the page as they wrestle with life in a way that will be identifiable to so many.
4 out of 5 stars

I received this book as part of the Revell Reads book tour in exchange for my honest opinion."