A Sister’s Secret by Wanda E. Brunstetter

495300Fiction — print. Barbour, 2007. 299 pgs. Received from PaperBackSwap.

After leaving her Old Order Amish community during her rumschpringa (running around years), the eldest sister of the Hostettler family has returned to Holmes County and joined the Amish church. Now married to Cleon Schrock, Grace worries her new life could be jeopardized by the arrival of Gary Walker, a boy she dated while living in the English world and the only one who knows her secret(s).

Very intriguing read due to the strain on Grace and Cleon’s marriage at the surfacing of her secrets and the dual mysteries of Gary Walker and the series of unfortunate events occurring on the Hostettler family farm, ranging from the cutting of a clothesline to the burning down of Cleon’s beehives. Intriguing, that is, up until the end of the novel when nothing was wrapped up. Cleon, who was rightfully hurt by his wife’s secret, quickly decides to forgive her in the last ten pages, and the mystery behind the vandalism is left completely unresolved.

Of course, I’m sure this will be summed up in the next two novels seeing as how there are two more sisters in the family who’s stories Brunstetter glossed over in her introductions of Cleon and Grace. But I’m still finding this to an annoying trait that exists in all of Brunstetter’s novel, which is why I believe it is much easier to read her novels when they are printed in a single volume like Lancaster Brides.

With A Sister’s Secret, I was struck with how underdeveloped the characters were. I couldn’t understand quick Cleon’s forgiveness of Grace, especially after how bitter he was for the entire novel. It was as thought Brunstetter decided 280 pages was getting a little too long and she therefore need to wrap things up pronto. And there’s another major character introduced halfway through that placed in the novel simply for drama and conflict, which means this character doesn’t bring a lot to the development of the other characters or the plot.

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