I had reviewed Book Three in the Ada’s House Series by Cindy Woodsmall in 2011, so I was glad for the opportunity to read “the rest of the story” in Hope Crossing, the complete Ada’s House trilogy, containing The Hope of Refuge, The Bridge of Peace, and The Harvest of Grace.
Book One was an introduction to the characters in an Amish community in Pennsylvania. All of the characters have some connection to Ada, a widow who mentors young women and starts a bakery business. Ada’s only son has left the community suddenly, leaving his fiancé, Deborah, without answers. Deborah’s brother, Ephraim Mast befriends and rescues an outsider who has family roots in this community. Due to lies told about her mother, Cara Moore did not get to grow up Amish. When her young mother died and her father abandoned her, Cara was abused by the foster care system in New York. She ran away from that abuse and ended up being stalked by a “brother” from one of the foster homes. When her husband and protector died, she and her child had to keep running from the dangerous stalker. Through God’s mercy, she found her way to Dry Lake where her mother’s family still lived. Because she was a worldly outsider, everyone but Ephraim treated her with suspicion and distrust. Ephraim’s befriending her led to his being shunned. He felt God directing him to show Christ to Cara, no matter what consequences he suffered.
Book Two continues Cara and Ephraim’s story, but also focuses on the local Amish school teacher, Lena, who suffers from low self-esteem because of a prominent birthmark on her face. She cares deeply about her students, but sometimes bends the Amish rules to get help for them. She is on probation with the school board when a young man in the community decides she needs to be removed from her position. He plots, harasses, and escalates into sabotage to cause harm and even death, for which Lena gets blamed and loses her job. Lena goes through much pain, but continues to reach out and help others, while learning to accept the disfiguring birthmark without allowing it to define her.
The themes of forgiveness and restoration are prominent in Book Three. Sylvia Fisher has violated her own code of conduct. She feels no forgiveness from God, so she runs away to have a new life in another community. Keeping her guilt a secret, she buries herself in hard work. She comes into conflict with a man who has found forgiveness from God, but is trying desperately to receive forgiveness and restoration with his parents.
At the same time, Cara Moore, who has found safety and love among the Amish community, finds it difficult to “measure up” to the Amish requirements of learning Pennsylvania Dutch and being a submissive, quiet-spirited woman so she can marry Ephraim Mast. One requirement is that she forgives and has a relationship with her father who abandoned her when she was a child.
Cindy Woodsmall is an excellent writer. There are so many characters to meet in these books, and it really helped to read the trilogy through at once to be able to get to know all their connections and keep them straight. Along the way, I learned more about how the Amish community functions. Woodsmall has Amish advisers for each book, so that gives me confidence that she knows what she is writing.
Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes.
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