The Bridesmaid by Beverly Lewis

71-oLo-vBFLFiction — print. Bethany House, 2012. 2012 pgs. Review copy.

Twenty-four-year-old Joanna Kurtz’s younger sister, Cora Jane, tells her to heed warning — “three times the bridesmaid, never the bride” — but Joanna won’t head her sister’s warning. In keeping with Amish tradition, she’s been keeping her beau a secret. Eben Troyer lives in Indiana and the distance between the two makes their relationship all the more difficult, never mind the fact that Joanna’s writings make transferring churches unimaginable.

Joanna isn’t the only with her own struggles. Cora Jane is trying to reconcile with the possible loss of her sister while Eben is hoping for the return of his own brother. Eben will be unable to move to Pennsylvania to court Joanna should his brother not return from the Englisher world; someone has to stay and help his father with the family farm.

Joanna’s decision to ignore her sister’s warning and keep both her writings and Eben a secret fractures their close relationship. I do not have a sister so I’m coming into this without that background. It seemed odd to me that her sister would get so upset over this issues, particularly when Amish youth traditionally keep these things secret. If confessing your interest in writing would threaten your standing and that of your family in the church, would you tell a sister?

I love every other aspect of this novel, though. The unfolding romance moved me to tears at multiple points. Lewis does such a good job of expressing frustration and longing without being explicit about it; I could just feel these emotions rolling off her characters. A very well-written addition to the Home to Hickory Hollow series.

Note: I received a copy of this book for review through the Early Reviewer program over at LibraryThing. ‘The Bridesmaid’ is scheduled to be published on September 11, 2012.

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