May 18, 2010

Book Review: Somewhere to Belong by Judith Miller

"Berta Schumacher wasn't going to adapt easily to our ways. To make matters worse, I had been assigned to assist Berta through the transition into our village. She would be working in the kitchen with me. Although the Kutchbaas was in charge, I would be expected to teach Berta. Just as the young girls who finished school and then transferred into our many kitchens and gardens throughout the villages, Berta would need to be trained.

'What if she resists the training, Vater? What am I to do?'

'Pray for guidance, child, and I will do the same. The girl needs a good influence in her life, and you are the perfect choice.'" Somewhere to Belong, pg 16.

Johanna Ilg has her hands full when Berta Schumacher moves to their village. Johanna has lived her whole life in Main Amana, one of the seven villages settled by devout Christians who believe in cooperative living, but Berta is anything but cooperative. The girl has a talent for trouble and rule breaking that stretches everyone to the end of their patience. Johanna wonders her younger charge will ever learn to be content in the community. At the same time, dark family secrets threaten to ruin the lives of both young women. Can either learn to forgive the sins of the past? Will they ever feel that they truly belong?

I knew nothing about the Amana Colonies in the late 1800s before reading this book. I found the idea fascinating, but because I new nothing about them, it took me some time to get settled into the story line. I felt a little like Berta, not knowing what to expect, because I did not understand all the rules. The storyline struck on something that everyone can understand, the struggle to find the place that you really belong, and unearthing family secrets that threaten to destroy the stability of the future. I liked this book.

(I received a complimentary copy of this book for the purpose of review.)

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