Monday, May 02, 2011

Book Review: "Abigail's New Hope" by Mary Ellis

Summary from As an Amish midwife, Abigail Graber loves bringing babies into the world. But when a difficult delivery takes a devastating turn, Abigail is faced with some hard choices. Despite her best efforts, the young mother dies-but the baby is saved.

When a heartless judge confines Abigail to the county jail for her mistakes, her sister Catherine comes to care for her children while Daniel works his fields. Catherine meets Daniel's reclusive cousin, Isaiah, who's deaf and thought to be simple minded by his community. She endeavors to teach him to communicate and discovers he possesses unexpected gifts and talents.

While Abigail searches for forgiveness, Catherine changes lives and, in return, finds love, something long elusive in her life. And Isaiah discovers God, who cares nothing about our handicaps or limitations in His sustaining love.

An inspirational tale of overcoming grief, maintaining faith, and finding hope in an ever-changing world.

I swear this is like the fourth book about midwifery I've read this year. I went from maybe reading one book about the subject every 3 or 4 years to 4 in just a few months. I wonder if this is the hot new trend in literature?

This was an interesting book about what happens when something goes wrong during the birthing process and the midwife is charged with endangering the patient and also using a drug they are not licensed to give. I found this book quite relevant in my reading because just a few days before starting it, there had been a news article in the paper about a midwife in our area who was now facing charges for the death of the child. This part of the story was very interesting because I felt that Abigail wisely balanced her Amish beliefs with the accordance of the law. She didn't resist obeying the rules of the judge or jail yet still kept her faith afloat. I found this very refreshing because it showed that at least in her sect, while God is the most important, it is also important to obey the law. She gives in to wearing the uniform set by the jail as well as allows herself to watch TV in order to better bond with her cellmate. It got a little too Christian-y at one point in regards to her witnessing to her new friend. I understand her enthusiasm but it just felt a little too well played out. By the end of the book though, the story seemed to lose its focus on what she had done an d the outcome.

The second part of the book rather baffled me. Abigail's sister Catherine comes to their town to help take of her children while she' s in jail. While Cat is there, she discovers that there is a young man who lives by himself and keeps to himself in her sister's family's back yard. It turns out the man is deaf and Cat, who has had training with the deaf, wants to help him. Her attempts at teaching and then falling for him, though while a bit unbelievable, was not a problem. What rather annoyed me is that Abigail and her husband seem to think that Isaiah is simple minded and can never be taught to read, write, speak or anything. It's quite insulting and down right ignorant. They both continually tell Cat that Isaiah can never learn anything and seem wary that he could be a normal part of society. The part that really rankled me is that all this time they seem to think that he's a believer simply because he bows his head at prayer. It never dawned on them that he was just mimicking what they were doing because he couldn't hear! They never thought at all to help him with his faith or any other interaction at all. He seems to be an outcast in their group so in all honesty, I have no idea why he is even Amish as he probably doesn't even know what it means to be Amish. This part of the book didn't seem to really flow as well.

It's a bit sad that that half of the book was a downer to me because otherwise Abigail's story makes for an interesting read. If the other books in the series don't show that kind of ignorance, I'll be more than willing to read more from the author.

Abigail's New Hope by Mary Ellis is published by Harvest House (2011)

This ARC was provided by a publicist

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