About the Book
This book fell flat for me in many different aspects. Firstly, the synopsis on the back of the book is inaccurate on two counts:
1) It points out Emma’s dream of opening a rescue shelter for stray animals in the community, yet this is never explored in the book aside from mentioning Emma’s compassion for animals. The dream that is explored is Emma’s sister’s desire to open a fabric store in their late-grandfather’s shed against Emma’s wishes.
2) Adam’s returning has nothing to do with Emma, but his mother’s well being. He doesn’t acknowledge his romantic feelings for Emma until the last third of the book, and it feels like he wants to have a relationship with her out of duty and guilt.
There is no mention of Emma’s sister Clara and her husband Peter, whom much of the story revolves around. Mark’s storyline doesn’t fit the rest of the plot at all and feels like it was added just to add needed tension or complexity, but it simply doesn’t work. It is almost as if the initial pitch for the story and the final product are two different entities, but it was still marketed to fit the first draft.
A lot of emphasis was placed on Emma being an old maid (at 25!!) and unattractive; but, in spite of her physical attributes, Adam started to see her in a new light. I hate when characters are stereotyped as the unappreciated homely girls with the big heart. It is a shallow characterization that lacks depth because the primary identifier is that she is unattractive and feel honored that someone likes her.
There is much implied, but little flushed out, especially regarding Emma’s relationship with her domineering sister. We are missing a lot of the back story and it is assumed that we can bond with characters without knowing what history brought them to this emotional place. The ending fell flat as a new character appeared out of the blue just to instigate the climax. Everything is wrapped up in a generic pretty bow afterwards and we are given the happy ending that dominates so many Amish fiction stories: the outside world is inherently evil and dangerous which causes the prodigal to return and see the error of his ways.
**review copy provided through Booksneeze**