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Reviewed by Lela Buchanan for Readers' Favorite
Kelly Irvin takes the reader on a "journey" through the ups and downs of an Amish community in "Love's Journey Home." We meet Gabriel, a widower and father of eight children, two of them with "Down's syndrome, as he relocates to the Bliss Creek community of Amish to try and make a new start. The widow Helen lives in Bliss Creek, also struggling to make sense of life without a husband and the responsibilities of raising a family on her own. Annie, a young mother and recently bereaved widow, runs the bakery; her sister, Catherine, who has left the community for the outside world, returns for a visit, adding the dynamic of "shunning" to this story of everyday life among a people who have chosen to remain separate from the world around them. In the midst of the various relationships, we watch the characters struggle with economic choices, physical challenges, and the temptation of the outside world's lifestyle to the young Amish.
Irvin thoroughly and honestly looks at the benefits of the Amish faith, including the downsides--for instance, the high rates of mental retardation from the small gene pool--but she invariably finds the redemption. "If she accepted the blessings in her life, did she not also have the responsibility to accept the hardships?" This is not just a romance between a man and a woman. It is a romance between people and their way of life--their faith, their family, and their everyday moral and physical challenges. The ladies make a quilt for their elderly aunt's birthday; the pattern they use is called "Sunshine and Shadow." The aunt responds, "We will always have both in our lives." A succinct summary of life. A book worth your time.