Title: Promise to Keep (The Promise of Sunrise #3)
Author: Elizabeth Byler Younts
Genre: Amish Historical Fiction
Publishing Date: Oct 13, 2015
Publisher: Howard Books
Length: 352 Pages
About the Book:
World War II Marine Joe Garrison returns home from war longing to be a father to his deaf daughter, Daisy, only to find that she is attached to Esther Detweiler, the Amish woman who has raised her since his wife’s death in this touching historical romance.
Orphaned as a child, Esther Detweiler is used to caring for herself and her ailing grandmother. They made the best out of a hard life and poverty without asking for help. They even take in her shunned cousin’s deaf daughter, Daisy, when her mother dies and her father goes off to war. When Esther’s grandmother dies, Daisy is all she has.
When war veteran Joe Garrison returns, all he can think about is recovering from the horrors of war and building a relationship with his seven-year-old daughter. Daisy, however, is unwilling to leave Esther, whom she loves. Joe and Daisy get to know each other again, but Joe struggles with nightmares and fatherhood is proving to be more difficult than he imagined. Esther loves Daisy and despite her Amish ways, Joe finds himself drawn to her as a woman and not just a caregiver.
As their love blossoms, Joe decides to send Daisy away to a school for the deaf which propels their lives into turmoil and a battle for love and family.
Just as I suspected I am now feeling sadness over the fact that I have officially finished reading this series and I wasn’t ready to be done with it yet. Elizabeth Byler Younts did a remarkable job of expressing some of the conflict in and around the Amish community during the time of WWII. A people devoted to nonviolence, the draft forced its way in and shook things up. I really liked that each of the stories in this series followed a different aspect of how families were effected. In the first two books we saw what happened when men either decided to go off to war or serve their time as a C.O. (conscientious objector). In Promise to Keep, we see what life was like trying to return from the war (although in this one the leading male character was not Amish).
I love that Elizabeth Byler Yount’s books make me think. They stir up empathy and draw me so close to the characters that I find myself wrestling with how I would handle the seemingly impossible choices they are faced with. In a community that likes to live by black and white, you begin to see the encroaching gray. This was so masterfully woven in that it doesn’t leave your thoughts even after you’ve finished reading.
One thing that stuck out to me in this novel is something that was said by Joe. He made a comment to Esther that just because something was considered wrong by the church, didn’t make it a sin. He was talking about the bann and the social rules around it that the church held firm to. It’s something you see Esther wrestling over the more she considers it. The quote that stuck out to me the most was:
“But were the Amish so entangled with the will of God that if you offended one, you offended the other as well? Or was there a distinction? Was God offended by sharing a meal with a shunned member more than He was offended by the shunning and rejection itself?”
Throughout the three books in this series we see what happens when the “English” and Amish intermingle. What’s interesting is that the end result is not always what you might expect. It was refreshing to see that both groups were respected despite their differences in opinion and as a reader you see that people aren’t really all as different as you might originally think.
I adored this series, and am sad to see it over. I fully enjoyed my time in it and look forward to reading more from Elizabeth Byler Younts in the future. Earlier this week a friend of mine said “With Younts, I think I would like even her shopping list. She’s just that good a writer!” I don’t think I can argue that comment haha. If you haven’t read this series yet I highly, highly recommend it!
*I was given a copy of this book from the author. Thoughts and opinions expressed are mine alone.