Book Review: "When the Heart Cries" by Cindy Woodsmall
One of the hardest books I've ever read
Hannah Lapp has grown up in the Old Order Amish ways but has decided she wants to break free. She finds this opportunity when her Mennonite boyfriend proposes to her and she accepts. But before she can rejoice in the prospect of a new life, an unthinkable incident happens to her. To make matters worse, her whole family has seemed to turn against her, offering her no help in her tragic situation. Worse yet, she is not able to contact her fiance to tell her what happened, causing him to think she wants to end the relationship. Just when Hannah thinks nothing could go worse, another event takes place that makes her young life become even more painful than it should be.
This was probably one of the most difficult books I've ever had to read. Normally it'll take me a couple days to a week to finish a book. However this book took me a month and a half to finish. I usually devour Amish fiction like there's no tomorrow. It's one of my favorite genres. This book unfortunately did not make my favorites list in this genre. I just dreaded reading about the horrible things that kept happening to Hannah and seeing how badly she was being treated by everyone especially her parents. Without spoiling the entire story, I was very disappointed at the way Hannah's situation was treated. I know that the Amish do not like to bring attention to themselves and are willing to forgive even the most heinous of crimes. However, that is no reason to blame your daughter for her getting raped! Then to top it off, the family doesn't press charges on the guy even though he might very well go and do the same thing to other women in the community! Rape is something in books that I feel justice must be served. I really hate it when I read about how the victim is blamed for the attack. It's one thing for the girl to blame herself from feelings of self guilt, but it's totally wrong when the PARENTS blame her for what happened. Hannah's whole life seems to be doomed from the beginning with Murphy's law just waiting for her at every corner. I did not like her sister at all, I have a feeling that there will be more trouble making from her. Her relationship with Paul seems to have the problem of a lack of communication. I wish the author had simply allowed them to sit down, talk things through, and get everything out on the table so no one would get confused or suspicious. But I guess if that happened there wouldn't be a story then.
I will say though that if there's anyone in this story that is a positive influence to Hannah, it is her friend Mary. Even without knowing Hannah's problem and the fact that she's had a traumatic experience herself, Mary stays by Hannah's side throughout the book even to the point of defending her against the man she loves who happens to be Hannah's brother. I only wish Hannah's family could have acted in the same way. It was interesting to learn more about the Amish lifestyle but as I said, the subject matter in this book made me uncomfortable and did not help to entice me to read the book. I'm not saying that I needed a happy ending with the story, and I know that there are more books in the series. I just could not fathom being a parent, having your daughter be raped, blame her for it, refuse to do anything to help her, and then still call yourself a Christian. I do have the other two books in the series, and I know that things will eventually get better for Hannah. Hopefully it won't take me as long to finish those books.
When the Heart Cries by Cindy Woodsmall is published by Waterbrook (2006)