Book Review: "Beside Still Waters" by Tricia Goyer

Summary from Marianna Sommer believes she knows where her life is headed. Nineteen years old and Amish, her plan is to get baptized into the church, marry Aaron Zook, and live in the only community she's ever known. When Marianna's family moves from Indiana to Montana she discovers life and faith will never be the same. As she builds an easy friendship with local guy, Ben Stone, Ben not only draws her heart, he also gets her thinking about what loving God and living in community is all about. As Marianna struggles to find "home", she also encounters God in intimate ways.

I've been a big fan of Tricia Goyer's book for the past 5 years. She's written books in many genres and has done a wonderful job switching between all of them. That being said, I was a bit worried about her turning to the Amish genre. I was hoping that she wasn't doing it just because it's the latest trend in Christian fiction and also was worried that it was going to cater to the average Amish reader. If you've read my reviews on Amish books in the past, you know that while I enjoy learning about the culture, I disagree with the way many Christian fiction authors have chosen to portray the Amish as the perfect and ideal lifestyle without going in depth about faith issues. Therefore, I started reading this book with caution afraid that I was going to be disappointed.

Well, my fears were for nothing. Goyer writes this book exactly how I wish more Amish books were like. She tackles issues and raises questions about why the Amish do things the way they do. The story makes it obvious to the reader and also brings awareness to the characters about how one shouldn't be doing things "just because" but instead they should know why they are doing them. It's never implied that what the Amish believe in is wrong and they should change their ways. Far from it in fact. But instead what is shown is that one should not be doing things blindly. It's ok to ask questions and learn why you are doing things a certain way instead of 'just because".

I actually felt bad for Marianna throughout the book. I do feel that she's been sheltered because of being Amish but then there's the added thing about her feeling like she has to be perfect. I fault her parents for how they treated her and being worried about what everyone else was thinking. So much hurt and misunderstanding could have been avoided. I understand that family is very important in Amish culture but it bothered me a bit that Marianna is an adult and still couldn't choose to live the way she wanted.

Since this is the first book in the series, we have a ways to go to find out what happens in the rest of the story. I feel like we just got the tip of the iceberg and I'm looking forward to finding out more. I'm eager to see more questions about faith arise with the characters and I'm looking forward to seeing what direction the story will go in. I have no idea why I doubted Goyer's work. She's never proven me wrong so why begin now? :)

Beside Still Waters by Tricia Goyer is published by B and H Publishing (2011)

This review copy was provided by the publisher


  1. I am so glad the book hit you that way!!! I am not a fan of Amish fiction, so when Tricia wanted to write Amish fiction, I was hoping that it would show a little more like the Amish life that I grew up around.....


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