More than anything else, thirty-something Holly Fisher longs for family. Growing up in Seattle without a dad or grandparents, she wonders what it would be like to have a heritage, a place of belonging. Holly is furious when her mother, Esther, reveals a long-kept secret: Holly's grandmother and uncles are still alive and begging Esther to return. And Holly is shocked when she learns that the family she's never known lives on a Lancaster, Pennsylvania, farm-as part of an Amish community her mother once abandoned.
Guilt-ridden Esther, terrified to see her mother and siblings, begs Holly to accompany her on a visit to Esther's mother before she dies. But can their journey to a conflicting world heal their emotional wounds and finally bring them home?
With Amish settings maintaining a firm hold on the Christian fiction market, I always appreciate when a story has a unique angle or something that makes it stand out from the "typical" Amish story. The synopsis for Leaving Lancaster sounded unique and promising, but unfortunately I was unable to connect with the characters.
I found both Holly and her mother Esther to be unlikable and rather immature. They constantly bicker back and forth through-out the book, with Holly often rehashing the same things over and over. At one point they are both interested in the same guy, he's close to Esther's age so that would put him about 15 years older than Holly. This entire situation just seemed creepy to me.
Even though Esther had lived in the "English" society for close to 40 years, she often acted like she didn't understand (or even know about) standard "English" ideas and practices. This may have been to show that she never completely lost sight of her Amish upbringing, but to me it made her seem a bit slow and unable to grasp basic ideas, even if she didn't agree with them.
The Amish characters were on par with the Amish in other books I've read, I didn't find anything out of the ordinary or "off" about them. I liked Esther's mother's Mennonite neighbors, especially Zach who is a veterinarian that Holly is sort-of-kind-of interested in. I wish there had been more time spent with him, but his time was very limited as he was only featured a hand full of times, and not for more than a few pages each time.
Unfortunately the story just didn't have the power to make me care or relate to any of the characters. This may be because I'm not a die-hard Amish fan, however it was actually the non-Amish main characters of Holly and Esther who lacked the power to charm me. I did read the entire book, but at this point I'm glad to be moving on to other things.
My Rating: 2.5 stars, rounded up to 3.
Thanks to the publisher (David C. Cook) for providing me with an e-galley via NetGalley for review.
|For those who are interested, here is the book trailer for Leaving Lancaster.|