The Hope Jar
Book 1 of The Prayer Jars Series
By: Wanda E. Brunstetter
About the Book:
A Brand-New Series from New York Times Bestselling Author Wanda E. Brunstetter.
What happens when making an elderly Amish couple very happy means going along with a lie that gets bigger by the day?
Michelle Taylor is not who her new family in Lancaster County believes her to be. The Lapps were looking for their long-lost granddaughter when they met Michelle and she assumed the identity of Sara Murray. Once homeless and hopeless, Michelle has come to love her new Amish friends and even considers the idea of romance among them.
Finding an old blue jar in the barn that is filled with slips of paper containing thoughts, quotes, and prayers by an unknown author becomes a boost to Michelle’s budding faith— but also convicting. How can she tell the truth without hurting the ones she has truly come to love?
The Hope Jar is another delightful story by author, Wanda Brunstetter. This book tells the tale of Michelle, a former foster kid running from an abusive boyfriend and searching for a place to belong. The prayer jar itself plays an important part in the story of sharing the hope of God’s word to this hurting young woman.
“She was living a dream right now, but it shattered every time she faced the truth: This isn’t real. It’s only a sham—one I created myself the moment I left the bus station in Philly with two of the greatest people I’ve ever known.”
It was a nice beginning to a beautiful story about hope, forgiveness, and finding a place to belong. I say beginning, because the book does end with a cliff hanger. I learned several new things about the Amish peoples, including the differences in districts. I think their world is fascinating and I love learning more.
“Michelle had made up her mind that when the time came for her to go, she wouldn’t look back or focus on all she’d lost. But it would be a challenge. Living here all these months and getting to know the Lapps had made her feel as if she had a real family. For the first time in Michelle’s life it seemed as if she could be truly happy.”
The dialogue is awkward, formal, and things seem to be voiced purely for the readers’ sake. There are moments when the story is more told than shown, but as these two things seem to be repeated issues that I have with each of her books, I’m assuming this is characteristic of her writing style.
I felt like the deceit was mentioned too frequently. Yes, it was the focus of the story, but I didn’t need to be reminded every scene.
The redemption message is very vague. although it’s obvious that Michelle is not a Christian, it shows her asking God’s forgiveness for lying, but not about finding salvation through Jesus. Maybe, there’s more to come about that too?
Despite the negatives I mentioned, it really is a compelling story and I recommend the book to all readers over the age of 12. Parental discretion is advised as a scene near the beginning involves domestic violence and may be frightening to some younger readers.
I’m interested to see how things go in the next book. It will also be fun to find out the truth about the prayer jar. Who wrote the papers and what are they in reference to?
I have plans to make Mary Ruth’s Tasty Scalloped Potatoes and Pork Chops, a recipe found in the back of the book.
About the Author:
New York Times bestselling and award-winning author, Wanda E. Brunstetter is one of the founders of the Amish fiction genre. She has written close to 90 books translated in four languages. With over 10 million copies sold, Wanda’s stories consistently earn spots on the nation’s most prestigious bestseller lists and have received numerous awards.
Wanda’s ancestors were part of the Anabaptist faith, and her novels are based on personal research intended to accurately portray the Amish way of life. Her books are well-read and trusted by many Amish, who credit her for giving readers a deeper understanding of the people and their customs.
When Wanda visits her Amish friends, she finds herself drawn to their peaceful lifestyle, sincerity, and close family ties. Wanda enjoys photography, ventriloquism, gardening, bird-watching, beachcombing, and spending time with her family. She and her husband, Richard, have been blessed with two grown children, six grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.
To learn more about Wanda, visit her website at http://www.wandabrunstetter.com.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher. A review was not required. All thoughts and opinions are my own.