In Where the Heart Leads, the lives of simple Kansas Mennonites and big city Bostonians are brought together due to a young man trying to find his place in the world. Thomas Ollenburger is a recent college graduate who returns to his home to figure out what do with his life. He is unsure if he wants to stay and help out his family on the farm or go back to Boston and pursue the career he’s always dreamed about. To make matters more complicated, both settings feature young women who are vying for a place in Thomas’s heart.
This book takes a subject not normally used in historical fiction. It is unique and interesting read as it shows a different side of the Mennonites, who have normally been portrayed as a modern version of the Amish. Here, the reader is taken back to the turn of the century and is shown how these people lived and survived in the Midwest. The characters in this novel are all very simple and down to earth. It is a rare occasion when the reader ends up feeling sympathy for both of the women who want Thomas to stay in their lives.
Politics and other hot topic issues of the time period are brought to life as Thomas delves into the newspaper business. The historical tidbits sprinkled throughout bring the story to life. The reader can feel the excitement of the upcoming election as the young people in the book are anxious to have their feelings and thoughts heard.
While this book is a sequel to Waiting for Summer’s Return, I felt that it can be read as a standalone novel. Enough information is given so that a new reader will not feel lost while reading. If however, you have read the previous novel, it is a treat to be reunited with the characters and see how everyone has fared in the past years.
Where the Heart Leads by Kim Vogel Sawyer is published by Bethany House (2008)