Arms of Love by Kelly Long, book one in the Amish Beginnings series, opens during the spring of 1777 - Lancaster, Pennsylvania - during a time of American turmoil and with Amish life being much different than today. This book presents a well-researched glimpse into the life of a small, peace-keeping Amish population. While themes such as domestic violence, PTSD, death, and religious intolerance give a dark feel at times, the book's overarching theme is that "God is for us" - and forgiveness/restoration play a major part in a conclusion filled with hope. Questions for group discussion and a four-week Bible study are included at the end.
Pennsylvania in the late 18th century, once called William Penn’s Woods, was an assortment of different faiths living together for the first time in American history. Included in this tapestry was a small and struggling population called Amish. Surrounding this peaceful people were unavoidable threats: both Patriots and the British were pillaging land and goods for the sake of the war, young Amish men were leaving the faith to take up arms and defend freedom.
Adam Wyse is fighting a personal battle. To possibly enlist in the revolution and leave his faith, which would mean walking away from the only woman he’s ever loved: Lena Yoder. But for that love he’s made a promise that may keep them apart permanently. When Adam withdraws from Lena, she’s forced to turn to his brother, Isaac, for support.
I loved the American Revolution time period and the fact that this book explores the beginnings of Amish life in colonial Pennsylvania, as they sought to find freedom in the face of religious extermination. But while fighting for their own freedom, colonists weren't always willing to extend those same ideas to others. "Were the times to disintegrate into something like the Palatinate, that Old World place of Germany where the spilling of Amish blood was thought to be a blessing to Gott and the land?" (Lena)
A unique quality of Kelly's writing is her ability to bring out raw emotion and passion in her characters. It is refreshing to see a couple's longing and desire for each other expressed in a godly way. An Amish bishop and a British POW were strong secondary characters who contributed greatly to the story. I also grew to like Adam's brother, Isaac, as his character changed and I'd love to see a future novel devoted to his story.
The main negatives for me are that the plot moved slowly at times and character growth seemed sudden rather than gradual. And while I often complain of abrupt endings, this ending was way too long, with the addition of more action after the conflict resolution.
While Arms of Love was a good novel overall and I will continue to read Kelly's books, I didn't enjoy this one as much as her other books. However, I think anyone who enjoys Amish fiction would like this book.
For more information on Kelly Long and her books, visit her website at http://www.kellylongbooks.com/
This book was provided by Thomas Nelson through the BookSneeze program in exchange for my honest review.