About the book: It’s the summer of 1951, and Maggie Esh is in need of some hope. Sweet-spirited and uncommonly pretty despite struggling with chronic illness, she is used to being treated kindly by the young men of her Old Order Amish church district. Yet Maggie wishes she were more like other courting-age girls so she could live a normal, healthy life.
To make matters more complicated, Dat has recently remarried, less than a year after her mother died. And while her stepmother is kind, Rachel is much younger than Mamm, and she simply doesn’t understand Maggie or her illness the way Mamm did.
When tent revival meetings come to the area, Maggie is curious, and the words of the Mennonite preacher challenge her to reconsider what she knows about faith. Can she learn to trust God even when hope seems a distant dream?
Publication Date: September 4, 2018
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Genre: Amish Fiction
My thoughts: A longtime fan of Beverly Lewis, I am always excited when she has a new book out. Since she doesn’t release books as often as other authors I always see her books as a treat and can’t wait to start reading them. However, The First Love proved a bit of a difficult read for me.
There are several characters in this book and I found trying to keep who was who straightened out in my head a bit difficult. Not only is there Maggie and her family to get to know but then there are her aunt, cousins, and the tent revival preacher and family and it was just a bit too much. I did like Maggie and felt sorry for her due to her health issues. The author wrote of her issues in a respectful and realistic way which was nice.
I feel like there was a bit much going on in the story too. Not only is there Maggie and her attending the tent meetings but there is also the storyline of the family trying to get used to their new stepmother. These two storylines worked ok together but it seems like they could have been integrated better.
The thing that bothered me the most about the story was the slow pace. One of the reasons I like Amish fiction is the slower pace of their lives but this story just moved too slowly for the first half. During the second half the pace picked up slightly and I found it much quicker to read. I would have like to have had more scenes with Maggie and Jimmy, too.
All in all this is an ok read but not my favorite from this author. If you are a fan of Beverly Lewis you will probably like the story but if you aren’t already a fan I would choose a different title from her to start with.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley and was not required to write a review. All opinions are mine.
About the author: Beverly Lewis, raised in Pennsylvania Amish country and both a schoolteacher and an accomplished musician, has been an award-winning author for over a dozen years. Her acclaimed novel, The Preacher’s Daughter, was a 2006 Quill Book Award finalist in the romance category. Her books have appeared on numerous bestseller lists, including USA Today and The New York Times. She and her husband, David, live in Colorado.