Book Review: Gathering The Threads

23 Aug

After months away in the Englisch world, Ariana Brenneman is overjoyed to be in the Old Order Amish home where she was raised. Yet her excitement is mixed with an unexpected apprehension as she reconciles all she’s learned from her biological parents with the uncompromising teachings of her Plain community. Although her childhood friend, ex-Amish Quill Schlabach, hopes to help her navigate her new role amongst her people, Ariana’s Daed doesn’t understand why his sweet daughter is suddenly questioning his authority. What will happen if she sows seeds of unrest and rebellion in the entire family? 
 
Meanwhile, Skylar Nash has finally found her place among the large Brenneman family, but Ariana’s arrival threatens to unravel Skylar’s new identity—and her sobriety. Both Ariana and Skylar must discover the true cords that bind a family and community together and grasp tight the One who holds their authentic identities close to His heart.

Gathering the Threads is the third and final novel in The Amish of Summer Grove series.

Cindy Woodsmall is a New York Times, CBA, ECPA, and USA Today best-selling author who has written seventeen (and counting!) works of fiction and one of nonfiction. She and her dearest Old Order Amish friend, Miriam Flaud, coauthored the nonfiction, Plain Wisdom: An Invitation into an Amish Home and the Hearts of Two Women. Cindy has been featured on ABC Nightline and on the front page of the Wall Street Journal,and has worked with National Geographic on a documentary concerning Amish life. In June of 2013, the Wall Street Journal listed Cindy as the one of the top three most popular authors of Amish fiction.

She’s won Fiction Book of the Year, Reviewer’s Choice Awards, Inspirational Reader’s Choice Contest, as well as one of Crossings’ Best Books of the Year. She’s been a finalist for the prestigious Christy, Rita, and Carol Awards, Christian Book of the Year, and Christian Retailers Choice Awards.

Her real-life connections with Amish Mennonite and Old Order Amish families enrich her novels with authenticity. Though she didn’t realize it at the time, seeds were sown years ago that began preparing Cindy to write these books. At the age of ten, while living in the dairy country of Maryland, she became best friends with Luann, a Plain Mennonite girl. Luann, like all the females in her family, wore the prayer Kapp and cape dresses. Her parents didn’t allow television or radios, and many other modern conveniences were frowned upon. During the numerous times Luann came to Cindy’s house to spend the night, her rules came with her and the two were careful to obey them–afraid that if they didn’t, the adults would end their friendship. Although the rules were much easier to keep when they spent the night at Luann’s because her family didn’t own any of the forbidden items, both sets of parents were uncomfortable with the relationship and a small infraction of any kind would have been enough reason for the parents to end the relationship. While navigating around the adults’ disapproval and the obstacles in each other’s lifestyle, the two girls bonded in true friendship that lasted into their teen years, until Cindy’s family moved to another region of the US.

As an adult, Cindy became friends with a wonderful Old Order Amish family who opened their home to her. Although the two women, Miriam and Cindy, live seven hundred miles apart geographically, and a century apart by customs, when they come together they never lack for commonality, laughter, and dreams of what only God can accomplish through His children. Over the years Cindy has continued to make wonderful friendships with those inside the Amish and Mennonite communities — from the most conservative ones to the most liberal.

Cindy and her husband reside near the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains in their now empty nest.

If you’d like more information or to contact her, you can go to her website: http://www.cindywoodsmall.com or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/authorcindywoodsmall.

My Impressions:

My book club will be reading/discussing Gathering The Threads by Cindy Woodsmall in October. We have been anxiously awaiting the final installment in the Amish of Summer Grove series, and I might be a bit sorry that I got the jump on my group. But only a little bit! 😉 Seriously, I was not disappointed in this book. Woodsmall did a great job in concluding this complex story of babies switched at birth and the ensuing emotional upheaval as the truth is revealed twenty years after the fact. As can be imagined, the news has been devastating to all involved and challenged the self-image of the two young women. The situation is further complicated by the fact that one was raised Amish and the other English. A good story is made better by the inclusion of the spiritual journeys all must take. Gathering The Threads is great!

In book 3, Ariana has returned to her Amish home after she was forced to live with her birth parents. She has learned a great deal, but confusion reigns as she reenters a community that agreed that she leave, but is not pleased with the changes that she has undergone. Skylar is threatened by Ariana’s return and works to sabotage Ariana’s position in the family. Both Ariana and Skylar can never go back to the way things were before. Will the two come to find their true home?

The two women who are at the heart of the switched at birth story line could not be more different. It is interesting to ponder what effects nature/nurture have on their personalities. One thing is sure — new experiences and people are sure to influence how one views life and self. Ariana is challenged to examine her blind obedience to authority, while Skylar is confronted with her selfishness. I loved that Woodsmall builds on each woman’s strengths and allows them to deal with their weaknesses. Each woman learns to appreciate both their Amish and English roots. While the switched at birth storyline is intriguing, it is the message of God’s grace and freedom that shines throughout the narrative. More than Ariana and Skylar are freed from bondage — bondage to legalism, self-righteousness, addiction, self.

A wonderful ending to a great series, Gathering The Threads does not disappoint. This one is a recommended read from me. Please note: don’t attempt to read just this book. You must read books one and two. And you are in luck! Book 1 is currently $1.99 for Kindle!

Recommended.

Audience: older teens to adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

(Thanks to Waterbrook Multnomah for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

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2 Responses to “Book Review: Gathering The Threads”

  1. Suzanne Sellner August 24, 2017 at 1:16 pm #

    I just finished reading this book this morning and loved it! I, too, waited eagerly for this third book in the series–mainly to learn how Skyler and Ariana would adjust and whether Quill and Ariana would find a way to unite. I was delighted with the depth of the characters, the many plot twists, and the resolution of the loose ends.

    Like

    • rbclibrary August 24, 2017 at 2:43 pm #

      Great insights, Suzanne! Thanks for sharing!

      Like

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