Book Review – Huckleberry Hill, by Jennifer Beckstrand
Anna Helmuth is an elderly Amish woman with a penchant for matchmaking. She tells her patient husband, Felty, that they need to do something to help their poor grandson, Moses, to find a wife. So Anna decides that she needs an assistant – after all, she’s getting too old to do all the housework, and she has heard good things about Lia Shelter.
Lia is twenty four years old, too tall, and has a scarred hand. In her parents’ eyes, that makes her unmarriageable. Never mind that she can make the best pies in the whole Amish community, she works hard, and she is gentle, kind, and unselfish. Her parents have assigned her the unpleasant job of caring for her beautiful but spoiled and obnoxious younger sister, Rachel, and they won’t even consider Lia’s dreams to become a midwife. Lia feels trapped and downtrodden. But when her parents send her to Huckleberry Hill in Bonduel, Wisconsin, to assist Anna Helmuth, Lia’s life changes dramatically. Suddenly she is appreciated for all her hard work, and she has the opportunity to study and become a midwife. And that good-looking grandson of theirs makes her pulse race.
Moses Zimmerman’s fiancé left him and the Amish church for the big city life, but she still keeps her claws hooked deep with weekly letters and promises that someday she’s coming back. Moses is twenty-four, heartbroken, and he knows he needs to make a fresh start. When he goes up to help his grandfather, Felty, on their farm, he meets Lia, and he is smitten. She’s just the right height for him, she’s beautiful, and she’s kind. He longs to get to know her better and to have a piece of one of her famous pies. Maybe he has found the one person who can help him forget his painful past.
But when Lia’s parents find out that she might have a beau, they send Rachel to the farm, with instructions to Lia that she is to help arrange a match between Moses and Rachel. Lia is torn between obeying her parents and following her heart. And Rachel is determined to have Moses, no matter what it takes.
I loved this book! The strictures and beauty of the Amish life are portrayed realistically and sensitively. The characters are fully developed, and I enjoyed the sweet romance between Lia and Moses. I loved the humor and upbeat feel of the book, as well as the description. But the best part of this book is the characters, all working within the structure of their way of life to achieve happiness. Anna is loveable, irrepressible, and kindhearted. She won’t quit until she’s got her grandson married to the right girl. Felty is this silent, tolerant figure in the background who lets the women do all the talking and then surprises everyone with his wisdom. He is amazingly tolerant of his wife’s terrible cooking. Lia is an amazing person with so much promise, but she can’t see who she really is because of the way her parents treat her. She has dreams. She wants to be a midwife, and she studies hard, but she has been raised to think of herself as a servant to her sister, and she is conditioned to obey her parents first. Moses shows his kindness and thoughtfulness in many ways. He sees both Lia and Rachel for who they really are, but he is not sure how to get what he wants without hurting someone. And the way things are going, he may never get a piece of Lia’s pie. The midwife is a strong, outspoken woman who is not afraid to follow her own ideas. I wanted to throw something at Lia’s parents for how they treat her. And Rachel is dreadful, the perfect villain for the story. She deserves a much worse fate than she gets in the end.
This contemporary inspirational romance is the first οf four books about Huckleberry Hill. I can’t wait to read the next one.
For more books by Jennifer Beckstrand, see her website: www.jenniferbeckstrand.com