Title: The Hope Jar
Author: Wanda E Brunstetter
Series: The Prayer Jars #1
Genre: Amish Fiction
Publishing Date: August 7, 2018
About the Book:
A Brand-New Series from New York Times Best Selling 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?
I loved this book on so many levels. Michelle has lived a rough life, without experiencing what real love really is. She’s never felt at home and part of a family. As a young girl she was separated from her parents and two younger brothers and placed in foster care. While she doesn’t deny that her foster parents cared for her, she doesn’t feel she belongs with them. So after running away from a domestic violence situation with her boyfriend Jerry, it’s not too far of a stretch to understand the longing she might have had in her heart when she is mistaken as the Lapp’s granddaughter. Although she initially wanted to say the truth, her heart was desperate for love and acceptance.
I’m aware that different Amish communities are more or less strict depending on their Ordnungs, and I would definitely place the Amish community in this book as fairly liberal compared to other books I’ve read. I’m not complaining or praising this, but simply stating the fact. In a way I feel that it helped foster the relationship between Michelle and the Lapps and made her feel more welcome.
The more time Michelle spent with the Lapps and around others in the community, the more her dishonesty starts to eat at her. What’s interesting though, is that it’s not just her lying itself that bothers her, but her feeling of unworthiness. After all of the abuse and abandonment she’s faced in her life, she doesn’t feel deserving of real love. It’s what makes you sympathize with her over her lies instead of hating her for it. I couldn’t help but hope that things would work out for her in the end.
But what about the real Sarah Murray? Where does she fit into the story?
This book is the first in a new series, so it definitely leaves you wanting to know more and find out what happens next. I really enjoyed this read, and I’m now anxiously waiting to get my hands on book 2!
*I received a free copy of this book through NetGalley. I was not required to give a positive review. Thoughts and opinions expressed are mine alone.
Age Appropriateness: The beginning of the book has some domestic violence between Michelle and her boyfriend Jerry and throughout the book Michelle goes back in her mind to some of her painful childhood memories. It’s not too graphic, but it’s present. It’s written more for adults, but I could recommend to probably 14 and up.