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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
It’s been fourteen years since Janna was a young girl, growing up in Lancaster County’s Old Order Mennonite community. She had some good friends amongst the Mennonites, Luke being her closest friend. Her mother dragged her away from these friends, but Janna never forgot. So, when life in the city gets tough and an abusive relationship threatens her and her daughter, Janna returns to her roots. Her Mennonite friends welcome her with open arms, but is this where she belongs? Is this the best place to be as a single mom with a young daughter? Can she rekindle old friendships and perhaps more? Or is she repeating her mother’s mistakes?
Christy Distler’s novel, The Heart Knows the Way Home, is a tender, compassionate look at relationships and love in a Mennonite community. The plot is nicely developed, leaving the reader on the edge of their seats wondering what has brought Janna back to this community, which is also like stepping back in time. The characters are believable and well developed, especially the children. The conflict is well presented as both Janna and Luke have their past demons to address while making a living and each raising a child as a single parent. It is interesting how some of the genetically inherited ailments (like MSUD which is common amongst the Old Order Mennonites and the Amish) are presented as part of the plot. There is a good descriptive narrative so the reader feels like they are part of the story. Dialogue is well used and there is a glossary of Deitsch (Pennsylvania Dutch) terms used sparingly in the dialogue to give the setting some character. This is a comfortable read, with a good plot.