Saturday, January 14, 2012

Hidden by Shelley Shepard Gray

Hidden by Shelley Shepard Gray. Avon Inspire, 2008. 223p. Sisters of the Heart Series, #1 (978-0-06-147445-3)

This was a late Christmas present from my best friend (yay for unexpected packages!). It’s a quick fun read. I don’t usually pick up books about the Amish but I did enjoy this one.

When Anna was young her mom took her to an Amish bed and breakfast for a weekend together to learn to quilt. Katie’s family runs the B&B and the two girls hit it off, writing to each other and Anna usually visited once or twice a year.

By age 24 Anna’s life has been marked by indecision and flightiness – she went to several colleges, but never graduated, has had many boyfriends and can’t stick with a job. When Anna needs to get away from her abusive and controlling boyfriend, Rob, who is running for a seat in the House of Representatives, Anna runs to Katie’s and hides there. The Brenneman’s take her in and with a ready will she helps Katie and Mrs. Brenneman with the household chores. Only Henry, Katie’s older brother, is a bit wary about having an “Englisher” amongst them. But after Anna and Henry get to know each other a bit, they see past the assumptions they have formed and a special friendship begins to form. Yet he’s Amish and she’s not and one or the other will have to change if anything will happen between them.

Towards the end Katie’s friendship with Anna seemed to change a bit which wasn’t explained very well. But the second book in the series (Wanted) is about Katie and the two preview chapters at the end of Hidden help explain a little about what Katie was thinking and feeling. I also really liked Anna’s friend Julia who played an important part in helping Anna decide what she should do about Henry, and I hope the Shelley Shepard Gray decides to write a story about her as well.

I enjoyed the story, it seemed plausible, most of the characters were well developed, and when Bible verses were quoted or prayers said it seemed very natural and wasn’t preachy at all.

The supporting characters, Anna’s parents, and the Brenneman’s were less well developed. Anna’s mom, Meredith seemed to go from being a poor parent, to trusting God that Anna was safe, to not trusting or listening to God when she knew Anna was alright. Which I suppose leaning on God in times of trouble and then ignoring Him when all seems well is a human tendency, but in Meredith if felt as if she were two different people. Mr. Brenneman is brought into the story only when there’s an important decision to make, and while Mrs. Brenneman is in there a bit more it’s usually to give wise council to Anna, Henry and Katie or to assign chores.

It’s a fun, clean read; if you enjoy stories about the Amish you might enjoy this one – though it doesn’t give a whole lot of details or information about their life.

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