Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Review: The Outcast

About the Book:
Raised in an Old Order Mennonite community, Rachel Stoltzfus is a strong-willed single woman, content living apart from mainstream society until whispers stir the moment her belly swells with new life. Refusing to repent and name the partner in her sin, Rachel feels the wrath of the religious sect as she is shunned by those she loves most. She is eventually coerced into leaving by her brother-in-law, the bishop. 

But secrets run deep in this cloistered community, and the bishop is hiding some of his own, threatening his conscience and his very soul. When the life of Rachel’s baby is at stake, however, choices must be made that will bring the darkness to light, forever changing the lives of those who call Copper Creek home.

My Comments:
This book is supposed to be a re-telling of The Scarlet Letter, which I'm pretty sure I read somewhere along the line.  Like the community in which The Scarlet Letter was set, Rachel lives in a community dominated by religion, in her case the Old Order Mennonite church, which is similar to the Amish in maintaining close group ties and eschewing much modern technology.  A difference that is noted is that while the Amish shun members who break certain rules until those members repent, the Mennonites in this book do not, at least not formally.  However, like any society, those who choose to flaunt its rules find themselves on the outside looking in, even while living in its midst.  

I guessed the father of Rachel's baby long before he was revealed in the book, and I actually agreed with Rachel's reasons for not telling.  

I found the story to be very well written and the characters were well-developed.  In reading Amish fiction it is easy to romanticize the lifestyle and the close community bonds.  Without being critical of the faith of these people, Jolina Pertersheim manages to point out the pitfalls of those close community bonds, not only for Rachel but also for a friend of hers who left the Amish.  

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.  Grade: B+

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