My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing
Years ago, a picnic basket brought two hearts together. For Rachel and Mike, history may be about to repeat itself.
Rachel Fisher is devastated when the young man she’s loved for years leaves her to date her best friend. Her heart is broken, and she has all but given up on love. Determined to keep her mind off the pain, she starts teaching at an Amish school for children with learning disabilities.
Since his father became ill, Mike Lantz has been overwhelmed with the responsibility of providing for his family and caring for his six-year-old brother, John. When John joins Rachel’s class and she learns that his mother is deceased and his father sick, she desperately wants to help the family, even with something as simple as a meal.
With her parents’ old picnic basket, Rachel begins sending food to the Lantz family. As the weeks go by, John’s grades start to improve, and the attraction grows between Rachel and Mike. They can’t deny that their friendship is growing toward something more, but both of them are hesitant to risk a more serious relationship.
The last thing Rachel wants is another heartbreak, and Mike is worried about providing for his loved ones. Will the two be able to reconcile their past hurts with new hope for the future?
I read this book after visiting Amish Country in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, so the setting was fresh and vibrant in my head as I read about Rachel and Mike's struggles, and I think it enhanced my experience. The most touching thing in this book to me was the way Mike was the caregiver for his dying father. Such a heart-wrenching time of life, full of exhaustion, grief, worry, hope, and prayers. He needs all the support he can get, and his first meeting with outspoken Rachel did not start them off on the right foot. Over time Rachel's compassion shines through her dedication to his little brother John's education and the meals she sends in the large picnic basket to help his family. I thought Rachel's initial ambivalence about teaching was interesting, but as she learns some humbling lessons and increases her skills, she sees the value that helping others has in her life. She and Mike are definitely attracted to each other but misconceptions and fears create a bumpy road in their developing relationship. I loved the strong sense of community and family in both households and the bond they shared with their family members, which created a memorable cast of characters.
(Thank you to Zondervan Publishing for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)