Sunday, August 20, 2017

Review: The Return by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Heidi Reads... The Return by Suzanne Woods Fisher

My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing


Beautiful and winsome, Betsy Zook never questioned her family's rigid expectations, nor those of devoted Hans, but then she never had to. Not until the night when she's taken captive in a surprise Indian raid. During her captivity, Betsy faces brutality and hardship, but also unexpected kindness. She draws strength from native Caleb, who encourages her to find God in all circumstances. She finds herself torn between her pious upbringing and the intense new feelings this compelling man awakens within her. 

Handsome and complex, Hans is greatly anguished by Betsy's captivity and turns to Tessa Bauer for comfort. Eagerly, Tessa responds, overlooking troubling signs of Hans's hunger for revenge. When Betsy is finally restored to the Amish, have things gone too far between Hans and Tessa?

Inspired by true events, this deeply layered novel gives a glimpse into the tumultuous days of pre-Revolutionary Pennsylvania through the eyes of two young, determined, and faith-filled women.

My Review

The complex dynamics of the characters in this book were so compelling amidst the trials they faced. There are multiple perspectives the story is told from which made it so interesting and the pace moved swiftly forward. Anna and Bairn from the first two books were influential as Tessa's parents and Bairn as the spiritual leader of the group, and I *loved* how their personalities shone through without the author retelling what happened in the previous books. Because of that, this book can definitely stand on its own and I think it will only make readers want to read the first book as well to discover how Anna and Bairn's romance began (The first book is my favorite- it's SO. GOOD.) Felix also plays an important role and I loved his rambunctious little family and the surprises that come out of his story.

I felt like we got to know Tessa the most, it showed her strong personality and also how vulnerable her unrequited love for Hans made her. Her fascination with a wild stallion she regularly seeks out shows her compassion and patience as she befriends it but never captures it. She stubbornly rebuffs "Rumpled Martin" over a grudge from long ago, and I admired his perseverance in earning her friendship and respect over time. Her not-so-secret habit of eavesdropping on her parents made me chuckle ;)

Betsy's story is heartbreaking and the realistic historical details of the raid and her captivity made me so sad for the real-life settlers who endured such traumatic experiences. I felt like the author did an excellent job representing both sides of the grievances the Indians and settlers had against each other and the humanity of the choices they made- good and bad. Because of the kindness and respect of her new Indian family, Betsy is able to differentiate between individuals and the choices they make. It was interesting and sad to see how fear and anger led many of the settlements to instead group all Indians together in their minds as the villains, leading to tragic results.

Overall I was completely satisfied with this book on its own and as an addition to the Amish Beginnings series. The rich history and the journey of the characters was forefront, and the romance sprinkled throughout created the perfect balance. Highly recommend!

(I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions in this review are my own)

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