Book Review: The River

Bethany House’s book review program is great. I love that it gives me the opportunity to read books that I normally wouldn’t choose on my own, like The River by Beverly Lewis. I hope you check it out!

The River by Beverly Lewis, reviewed by
Here’s a description of the book from the publisher:

She looked once more at the dreaded river. Since Anna’s death, it had been such a barrier…a place and a moment she could not seem to move past.

A line I can’t move beyond…

The River

Tilly and Ruth, two formerly Amish sisters, are plagued by unresolved relationships when they reluctantly return to Lancaster County for their parents’ landmark wedding anniversary. Since departing their Plain upbringing, Tilly has married an Englisher, but Ruth remains single and hasn’t entirely forgotten her failed courtship with her Amish beau.

Past meets present as Tilly and Ruth yearn for acceptance and redemption. Can they face the future in the light of a past they can’t undo?

My five point review as usual:

  • I know in the fiction world, the Christian fiction world especially, Amish novels get a bad rap. I know they aren’t REALLY representative of the Amish and I know they can pile on the cheese quite high at times, but I can’t help but like them. They’re great “escape” novels, for real. So why did I say that I probably wouldn’t have read this novel on my own? Well, because the author has written SO MANY novels… over 90, in fact. She’s an established author and has a lot of series, and sometimes with those sort of authors I get overwhelmed and lazy and don’t want to figure out where to start. Or I want to find THE BEST novel/series to start with and just get bogged down. But this standalone novel is totally worth the voyage to a new [to me] author and has encouraged me to seek out more of her work.
  • The best word I could come up with to describe this book is bittersweet. There’s so much love, yet so much tension in this family. So much good, yet so much bad. Isn’t that true of most/many families? The family is the main focus in this novel, and this family’s story is oh so bittersweet. So if you go into this novel looking for a happy-go-lucky novel with a bit of drama, change your expectations and then start reading. You’ll be sure to enjoy it.
  • I thought it was interesting that the story took place in 1977. It seems like most Amish novels are either timeless or present-day, so that was different. But since the author was so specific about when the story was set, I think it would have been helpful to have more dates in the story because it seemed a bit unrealistic all that took place over a period of a few weeks/months. Not a huge deal, but still worth mentioning.
  • The theme of forgiveness was quite prevalent throughout the story… and played a role in almost every character’s relationships with each other. The complex [and often conflict-filled] relationships were handled well, something that could have easily been confusing wasn’t.
  • Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It handled tough subjects tastefully, was well written, and was engaging. I could hardly put it down! I liked that the ending wasn’t [too] predictable. 🙂

What are you reading lately?

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers. However, I was not required to write a positive review. The thoughts expressed above are entirely my own. Thanks to Bethany House for the chance to read this great book!


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