I'm a Catholic who reads a lot of Christian fiction. Christian fiction, for the most part, is written for and by Evangelical Protestants, and reflects their faith experiences and life view. Sometimes these books contain Catholic characters, and often when they do, I roll my eyes and say "The author just doesn't get Catholicism". They may get the externals right (and sometimes not) but the meanings fly right past them, whether its because we aren't good at explaining then or because the author doesn't want to give up pre-conceived notions about us.
So, why am I talking about Catholicism when I show a photo of a book with an Amish girl on the cover? Amish fiction is a popular sub-genre of Christian fiction, but most of the authors are not Amish and hold a very different world view than do the Amish. I've often wondered if their depictions of Amish life and faith were as flawed as the depictions of Catholicism that I've read. With Running Around (And Such) (Lizzie Searches for Love, Book 1) I'm pretty confident that the depictions of Amish life and beliefs are accurate because the author, Linda Byler, is Amish. One thing I've found interesting is that she made it clear that the Amish are not one monolithic group who are all the same. The family at the center of the story moves a couple of counties away and the women have to change their hairstyles and are allowed to wear sweaters. I'd say the strength of this book is the depiction of Amish life--the clothes, the hairstyles, the houses, the schools and the fact that just like "English" girls, Amish teens want to look nice.
Unfortunately, the weakness of this book is the plot--there really isn't one. Lizzie, the main character, is coming of age. She is looking forward to being of dating age when one day her father announces they are moving to another county to buy a farm. She doesn't like farming, but Amish kids who live on farms work on farms. Also, we follow her as she works for other families in the area, and starts looking for a husband. Still, the book lacks the typical plot arc of introduction, problem, rising action and resolution. It doesn't end as much as it stops. The only conflict is between Lizzie and her parents, and there is no real resolution, but then the conflict isn't that much different than many teens and parents.
If you enjoy Amish fiction and want to read a book written by an Amish woman, you may like this one, but in the overall world of books, Running Around (And Such) (Lizzie Searches for Love, Book 1) leaves a lot to be desired. Grade: C.
Thanks for FSB Media for providing a review copy.