Fiction — print. Waterbrook, 2009. 336 pgs. Purchased.
Twenty years ago, Cara Moore’s father left her sitting on a bench at a train station after her mother died in a car accident waiting for a mysterious Emma Riehl to come pick her up. Emma never arrived, and young Cara was placed in the foster care system. Now on the run from a dangerous man she meet while in foster care, Cara uses her last one hundred dollars to get her and her seven-year-old daughter Lori to Mast Road in Dry Lake, Pennsylvania, a location her mother hid in the diary she gave to her Cara before she died. Without a house number or even a name, Cara quickly resorts to “borrowing” food, blankets, and clothing from the houses on Mast Road not knowing the people she’s stealing from knew her mother, Malinda, nor that they’re Amish.
Thirty-two year old Ephraim Mast works hard in his father’s cabinetry business, but his father and stepmother rely on Ephraim to fulfill the role of provider, eldest brother, and father leaving Ephraim filled with resentment because his ailing father’s new family seems to include another mouth to feed every time Ephraim turns around. When Cara and Lori are found living in his barn, Ephraim wants nothing more than for them to leave. However, when the police arrive and social services pulls a distraught Lori from her equally distraught mother, Ephraim finds himself volunteering his home and his help to stop the two from being separated.
It’s been quite sometime since I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning reading a novel; maybe even since I last read a book by Woodsmall. I was easily wrapped up in the tale of Cara and Ephraim because not only are the characters believable, but the dialogue and descriptions are fantastic. Adorable little Lori was endearing, but didn’t feel like she was needed to force the plot lines like I was afraid she would be. And I thought the focus on the impact of foster care on a person and poverty was really interesting as well as the relationship between Ephraim and his family and that of the Amish and the outsiders.
All that said, I thought the concept of Cara’s stalker was the weakest part as I didn’t get a strong enough sense of him as a threatening character and feel he was more or less a prop to explain her reason for fleeing to Dry Lake. In addition, one character, Lena, was highlighted in passing and Deborah and Mahlon’s relationship felt underdeveloped, but I have a feeling the next novel(s) in this series will deal with at least one of these issues. Overall, a very well-written novel, and I cannot wait until the second novel in the series comes out in September.