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Reviewed by Lela Buchanan for Readers' Favorite
"Katie Opens Her Heart" by Jerry S. Eicher chronicles the life of a young Amish girl as she steps tentatively over the threshold from adolescence into adulthood. Katie is changing: her co-workers see it while her mother fears it. Katie's mother, Emma, a widow for many years, has kept Katie close, wanting to protect her from the sorrow and pain she had experienced in her own youth. But Emma's attempts to control both her own and Katie's lives is about to be challenged as the widower Jesse believes 'Da Hah' has divinely ordained him and Emma to be wed. The schoolteacher Ruth has her own ideas about God's will, however, making for some interesting and often humorous situations. Katie's journey is tightly intertwined with her mother's, and together they explore relational virgin territory, between themselves and with others, growing and maturing emotionally and spiritually along the way.
The major characters in this lovely book are so well-drawn that you feel their anxieties, urge them to take the risks, cheer their successes, and suffer with them in their pain. Eicher adeptly opens their thoughts to the reader. Jesse believes that working the land is 'Da Hah's' best way of living. "A man's touch could make land that had been cursed grow again. What higher calling in life was there?" But, then, Jesse wonders if that is why he is so interested in Emma Raber. "She had been withering away for years now . . . wasn't it time Emma's life blossomed again?" It is a beautifully told story of relationships, where you will identify yourself a little with one of these characters and learn a little something about yourself in the process.