I just finished reading "Courting Ruth" by Emma Miller, the first book in her Hannah's Daughter's series.
Ruth Yoder, a 23 year-old member of the Seven Poplars community in Delaware, says she'll never marry -- that she will take care of her widowed mother, Hannah, and her younger sister, Susanna, who has Down syndrome, until she's swept off her feet, in more ways than one, by bad boy Eli Lapp, from Belleville, who's rumspringa.
What's Ruth to think of this wild, motor scooter driving, handsome young man who hasn't joined the church and are the rumors of his unsavory past true? What drives Eli to believe that he isn't worthy of a religious girl like Ruth and yet continues to pursue her against his better judgement? And why are there so many fires starting since little trouble-maker Irwin Beachy came from Ohio to live with his cousins after his parents died?
I loved the family activity and banter in Ruth's house. I was touched by how Ruth's Dat said that Susanna "was one of the Lord's gifts and that they should fell blessed every day the He entrusted her to their family." None of the characters seemed out of place -- from the excitement seeking Miriam, to the dutiful wife Johanna, to the stern Aunt Martha, to the widower next door Samuel, and even to the almost obnoxious Charley -- they were all very real. I liked how Irwin kept popping into the story and adding tension in Ruth's household.
I recommend that the Amish fiction fans out there read "Courting Ruth" and see if you don't say "Oh no!" here and there, or smile when Eli's teasing Ruth, or think "get a life Aunt Martha" a couple of times. I know I did and I'm looking forward to Emma Miller's "Miriam's Heart" in April.