I have a friend who loves the Amish people. Growing up in Ohio, we’ve both been exposed to the Amish and Mennonite communities of northeastern Ohio to some extent. But while I have a sort of appreciation for their devotion to their faith and lifestyle, my friend absolutely loves all things Amish – from quilts and furniture to homes, food and the people themselves.
When I came across an Amish trilogy by Beverly Lewis called Annie’s People, I couldn’t help but dive right in so I could let my friend know if this is worth the read or not.
The Preacher’s Daughter is where we are introduced to Annie Zook and her family. They are a typical Pennsylvanian Amish family. Annie’s father is a preacher in the community. Her and her older brother are in the middle of their Rumspringa and Annie’s grandparents live in an adjacent house just behind the main house.
Annie’s rebelliousness has been somewhat unconventional from other Amish kids in her community. She’s not dating an Englisher or running around Lancaster in her English clothes she keeps hidden away. Instead she has a secret pen pal and together they encourage each other in the arts, such as painting and drawing, which is forbidden in Annie’s community.
When Lou, Annie’s pen pal, calls off her wedding at the last minute, she rushes off to find sanctuary in the Amish community and exposes Annie’s secret life of art.
This book is really an introduction to all the characters that we will grow fond of in the subsequent book.
The Englisher is the second book in the series. Annie has had some brief interactions with an Englisher staying with her Mennonite cousin, but it becomes very clear that there is a certain chemistry between them. Now they find themselves sneaking away for romantic dinners as Ben learns the art of courtship.
At the same time Lou finds herself falling for an Amish man who has been “on the fence” for years. But the longer she stays in Paradise with her Amish friends, the more she longs for her modern life back in Colorado.
In the final book, The Brethren, Lewis resolves to find a resolution for everyone.
Will Isaac be returned to the community? Will Essie and Zeke be welcomed back into the fold? Will Lou and Sam end up together or will she go back with her ex? Will Annie make her decision about whether she will stay in the community and be baptized or “jump the fence” and run after her beau?
There are a few things that I loved about this series. The characters were endearing and the Amish culture was brought out as a vibrant community full of secrets and traditions. Another thing I loved was the story as there were so many different plot lines going on and yet they all ended up connecting to each other at the very end. The painting that started all of Annie’s woes would end up being her saving grace.
My only complaint is that everything was tied up a little too neat for me. This is a trademark of Lewis’ novels. I tend to enjoy when there’s something left unresolved because it lends to the authenticity of the characters I’ve been reading about.
Overall, I’d give this series 4 stars. What I liked about it best is that I could read these books anywhere and not be concerned about who was looking over my shoulder. On Sundays I find myself with some down time between teaching Sunday school and the service starting. Oftentimes I would sneak out my phone and start reading another couple of pages of these books. As for my Amish-loving friend, I would totally recommend this series to her. I think she will love it as much as I did.
Have you ever read a book and thought that this would be a good read for one of your friends?