Literary Quote of the Month

“For poems are not, as people think, simply emotions (one has emotions early enough)—they are experiences,” … Rilke, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Wanderers by Paul Stutzman… A Review

An Amish Love Story About Hope and Finding Home

Everything in God’s nature, Johnny observed, did what it was created to do. Everything, that is, except the human race. Johnny was born into an Amish family, into a long line of farmers and good businessmen. He is expected to follow the traditions of family and church as he grows to adulthood. But even as a boy, he questions whether he can be satisfied with this lifestyle. He wants “more” — more education, more travel, more opportunity.

His restlessness leads him down a dangerous road where too much partying and drinking result in heartbreaking consequences. He’s adrift, and no one seems to be able to help him find his direction.

Then he meets spunky Annie, who seems pure and lovely and devoted to her God. Her past, though, holds sin and heartbreak. She was a worm, she explains, but God has transformed her into a butterfly. Johnny falls hopelessly in love; and eventually he, too, finds the power of God to transform lives. Settling down on the family farm, he forgets about the questions and the restlessness, thinking that he is happy and at home, at last.

But in a few short hours, tragedy changes his life forever, and he is again wondering… and wandering on a very long journey.

Entwined with Johnny and Annie’s story is the allegory of two Monarch butterflies, worms who have been transformed into amazing creatures specially chosen to carry out the miracle of the fourth generation. They, too, must undertake a long journey before they finally find home.

First Chapter Thoughts: We meet Johnny, born into the Amish life, but struggling against it. The first line of the book and chapter, hint that this isn't your typical Amish boy…"I was ten when I had my first taste of beer." The last line tempts you into reading more… "I was an Amish man living the dream. Until it was all taken from me." I felt right from the start that Johnny was a complicated character, and this just showed the beginning of the richness of Paul Stutzman's characters.

What did I think of The Wanderers? There's a quiet calm to Paul Stutzman's book, The Wanderers. The writing is hypnotizing, the story is wonderful and the characters just wrap around your heart, especially Johnny and Annie. A simple love story that will capture your heart, but also a story of acceptance, redemption and finding ones' place in the world.

I have never read any Amish literature. There are plenty of authors who base their stories in the Amish way of life, but my choice to read The Wanderers was because the love story between Johnny and Annie seemed so sweet, and I liked the idea of Monarch butterflies playing a part of the story. What's refreshing is that there is no blatant sex. Love, God and family play a major part of the structuring of the story and the reader can breath a sign of relief that the story itself is so good, that we don't need to be distracted. We enter the Amish world, but are not stationed there. We experience the way of life and as we walk outside of it, we can see and understand the differences. The characters Johnny and Annie are not perfect, but are written with a beautiful human quality that overpowers their flaws and makes the reader empathize with them. The Monarch butterflies- well, that is a sweet surprise for you to discover. They have their own story intertwined with Johnny and Annie, but written separate from them.  Simply put, The Wanderers was a wonderful read, and I would definitely recommend it if you enjoy Amish fiction, enjoy love stories and don't need all the sex, and basically enjoy relaxing with a good book that will break your heart in spots, but also make you smile in others.

I want to thank Pump Up Your Book and Paul Stutzman for including me in the Virtual Tour of The Wanderers and sending along a review copy of the book! You can read more about Paul and his new book at Paul's Website! The Wanderers is available on Kindle! Click on the title for more info.

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