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 and 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.
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About the Author:
Jolina Petersheim is the bestselling author of The Midwife and The Outcast, which Library Journal called "outstanding . . . fresh and inspirational" in a starred review and named one of the best books of 2013. She holds degrees in English and communication arts from the University of the Cumberlands, and her writing has been featured in venues as varied as radio programs, nonfiction books, and numerous online and print publications. Her blog is syndicated with The Tennessean's "On Nashville" blog roll, and she also blogs weekly with nine other bestselling authors at Southern Belle View. Jolina and her husband share the same unique Amish and Mennonite heritage that originated in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, but now live in the mountains of Tennessee with their young daughter. Follow Jolina and her blog at jolinapetersheim.com.
I have been looking forward to reading The Outcast for a while. I decided to tackle my summer reads list and made sure this one was on it, since I had read such great reviews for it. Thankfully, my librarian was able to provide me with a copy.
I wasn't disappointed! I may have read the original Scarlet Letter a long time ago, but do not recall much of the book now, so there is not much of the story I am able to compare. I did though enjoy Jolina's take on the story. She tells much of it from the perspective of a deceased man - father of two of the main characters in the book.
Rachel a young Mennonite single woman has moved in with her sister to provide help during the pregnancy and birth of her child. Rachel, herself, is soon found to be pregnant, but refuses to name the father and partner in her sin, thus becoming the "outcast" of the community. That brings many repercussions and her young son eventually contracts a sickness that will encourage hidden things be brought to light.
There is so much in the lives of those in this story, that begs to be addressed; but bringing it out will open a can of worms, no one can close. God though is a God of healing, love, forgiveness, and He does not allow sin to remain hidden for long. One day all things will be brought to the light.
Rachel's secret partner eventually must confess his sins, which he thought were hidden, but were not so much so. Rachel must address her feelings of anger and bitterness. Both her and her sister have things in their past that have to be talked about and opened up so that each can see how her misunderstanding and actions or reactions have affected the other.
There are two other characters in this story you will love. Ida and Judah. Ida has her own history, and a past she has been kind of running from. Although she is a rock for Rachel in her struggle, she too has to find healing from years of baggage, pain, and self condemnation that she has carried around. Judah, on the other hand has always loved Rachel, even ready to rescue her when finding her with child by another man. He must deal with rejection, failed plans, and what his future holds.
Your emotions will play into this book as you read and become a part of the character's story and lives. Jolina addresses all this and more through the lens of God's amazing grace. If you enjoy buggy and bonnet type books, you will enjoy this one.