Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Decision by Wanda E. Brunstetter

Sometimes Jonah feels he must be unlovable…
        By a strange turn of events Jonah Miller was left at the altar by the love of his life. He hopes he left heartbreak behind when he moves from Pennsylvania to Illinois, settling into a new Amish community as a buggy maker.
        He starts to court Elaine Schrock, who works with her grandmother to host dinners in their home for tourists. But when her grandfather suddenly dies and her grandmother—her only living relative—slips into dementia, Elaine ignores her growing love for Jonah and sets him free to look for love elsewhere.
        Jonah is sure he won’t find love a third time. Is God calling him to remain single, or does He have a different plan for the lonely Amish man?

        I have been a fan of Wanda E. Brunstetter’s books for some time now, so I was sorely disappointed when I found The Decision extremely hard to read. Usually, I enjoy her plotlines, fall for her characters, and am captivated by her stories. That was unfortunately not the case with this novel. It was a slow read, and I ended up skimming much of the middle. It picked up to a certain degree near the end, so I did finish it, only to find the resolution entirely different from what I expected.
        The first thing that disappointed me about Jonah Miller is the fact that I really don’t know anything about his story that is alluded to in the synopsis. It is mentioned in passing a few times, but never in its entirety, and only one time does it give enough information to make me feel like I know what is going on. On top of that, I have to say I found him to be very wishy washy. He seemed so in love with Elaine throughout the beginning of the book, and when she sets him free, he is completely devastated. Imagine my surprise when he recovers fairly quickly, even enough to…well, I don’t want to spoil the story. But he gives her up with hardly any fight after the initial attempt to get her back. I found that difficult to swallow, considering just how much he claimed to love her.
        Unfortunately, I cannot say I liked Elaine Schrock any better. Although I must applaud her for her determination and commitment when it came to caring for her grandmother, her somewhat whiny attitude during the whole ordeal really grated on my nerves. And her constant assurances that she could do everything ‘all on her own’ didn’t give me that Amish-story feel. One thing I love about Amish fiction is the way the Amish communities always band together and do anything they can to lift each other’s burdens. I was expecting that in this book, especially since it is made apparent just by reading the description that Elaine goes through quite a lot, but she rarely ever accepts anyone’s help, and even goes so far as to push people who could be her main support system away. I also couldn’t stand how she turned Jonah away quite the way she did. For a woman in love, she sure didn’t act like it.
        I also found the plotline very slow moving, the dialogue lackluster, and the whole story extremely repetitive. Many of the scenes were purely filler and could have easily been done without, and the ending totally threw me for a loop. I wasn’t expecting it AT ALL, but I have to say, that was one of its good points. I like an unexpected story, and Wanda did do a wonderful job of portraying that life doesn’t always go the way we expect it would. Because of that, I will give this story two out of five bookshelves, but there were too many things I found at fault with this novel to feel right giving it any more. Although I am sorely disappointed with this outcome, I really like the description for the second book in this series, The Gift, so I am still looking forward to reading that one. I just hope it turns out to be more of a hit than this one.
        Happy reading!

Although I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this story, you can check it out for yourself—or pre-order The Gifthere.

Linking-up at Let It Shine.

All credit for the italicized synopsis goes to Wanda E. Brunstetter and Shiloh Run Press.

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