Raised in an Old Order Mennonite community, Rachel Stoltzfus is a strong-willed single woman, content living apart from mainstream society until whispers stir the moment her belly swells with new life. Refusing to repent and name the partner in her sin, Rachel feels the wrath of the religious sect as she is shunned by those she loves most. She is eventually coerced into leaving by her brother-in-law, the bishop.
But secrets run deep in this cloistered community, and the bishop is hiding some of his own, threatening his conscience and his very soul. When the life of Rachel’s baby is at stake, however, choices must be made that will bring the darkness to light, forever changing the lives of those who call Copper Creek home.
Jolina Petersheim is the award-winning author of The Midwife and The Outcast, which Library Journal gave a starred review and named one of the best books of 2013. The Outcast also became an ECPA, CBA, and Amazon bestseller, and was featured in Huffington Post’s Fall Picks, World Magazine’s Notable Books, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, and The Tennessean. Jolina blogs bi-monthly at Southern Belle View Daily with nine other authors joined in their love for Jesus, the South, family, and words.
There have been so many glowing reviews of Jolina Petersheim’s debut novel, The Outcast, that I was intrigued by this book. Add the fact that it was inspired by The Scarlet Letter, I knew I had to read it sooner than later. I purchased the audiobook and took off on my morning walks becoming immersed in Rachel’s life, her struggles and heartbreak. The Outcast was a book I just could not put down, er, turn off! Great writing, characters and plot — this novel has it all and gets a very highly recommended designation from me.
Petersheim sets her story of betrayal, jealousy, and judgment in an Old Order Mennonite community. Forgiveness is available, but only if repentance comes first. But not all sins are brought to light, and hypocrisy and pride drive innocents out into the world.
As stated, The Outcast is inspired by The Scarlet Letter. If your high school experience with that novel was less than enjoyable, don’t let that fact keep you from reading this book. Petersheim’s voice is fresh and accessible for her readers. Characters are real and relatable. The dual points of view of Rachel and a recently deceased Amos give fascinating and insightful glimpses into the heart of the characters. The faith message of God’s love, forgiveness and restoration runs throughout the novel. The Outcast also echoes the story of Rachel and Leah from the book of Genesis. — a nice touch. Petersheim also does a great job of exploring the impact of cancer on the entire family.
The Outcast is a winner in my book!
Very Highly Recommended.
Great for Book Clubs.
To purchase this book, click HERE.
(I purchased an audiobook from Audible. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)