I’m not really into what I consider Christian Novels, those that have a heavy Christian influence in their writing. With that aside, I had absolutely no idea that Almost Amish was in the ‘genre’ when I picked it up at the library and still hadn’t a clue until halfway through it when I was already sucked in. I’m only making a point of this because it is so well written and instead of having a heavy religious aspect, the characters are very natural as people generally are with their faith. I loved that.
Julie Charlton is at the breaking point. She’s overwhelmed and burned out, and in today’s unrelenting society, her kids are, too. When her sister-in-law Susan, a Martha Stewart-in-training, lands the chance to participate in a reality TV series promoting simple living, and needs another family to join her, it seems like the perfect opportunity.
Almost Amish isn’t a love story and it isn’t romantic, unless you consider falling in love with your life again a kind of romance. I chose this book as the Best Pick for Women for Valentine’s because it is something that we can all relate to, being overwhelmed by our lives, technology, school, programs, activities – everything that fills our days up to where we have no time for ourselves or actual ‘family time’. Most of us don’t even know we’re so swept away until we feel like we’re drowning in it all and that is how Julie Charlton, one of the main characters in the story, feels. The pressure of everyday expectations becomes so much that she almost breaks, but she gets a chance at a second life.
The location is an idyllic farm outside an Amish community in Tennessee. Julie, with her two children, joins Susan and her teenage daughter for a summer adventure. Susan needs to succeed in order to become self-sufficient after an ugly divorce, Julie needs to slow down long enough to remember what her priorities are and regain a sense of purpose and meaning. It becomes clear from the start that “living simple” is no simple matter. With the camera watching every move, Susan’s drive for perfection feels a lot like what they left behind, while Julie suddenly finds herself needing to stand up for slowing down. With each new challenge, their season of “going Amish” gets more and more complicated, as each woman learns unexpected lessons about herself and her family.
There are two characters in the story, Julie is a Homemaker and Susan is a Career women. They are opposites of each other in many ways, one is married, the other divorced, one has a hard time with everything and it all seems natural for the other. Each of them have their own priorities, their own ways they raise their children, the different ways they grew up and the different expectations that are placed on each of them. I found myself able to relate to both of them in many ways, but Julie had my heart. I have a hard time with things as she does, I’m a Homemaker and that life isn’t as easy as it appears to others. Sometimes I want nothing more than to escape the life around me with my family and find the roots of purpose in what is important. And that is what this book is ultimately about, what is honestly important in our lives.
Julie and Susan, with their children, go to live a ‘simpler’ life as almost Amish. They leave behind the city, the hustle and bustle of everything to slow down, but they realize with each new challenge they must meet that the ‘simpler’ life is more complicated than they thought. There are so many lessons in the book, met with deep thought and understanding, that by the time I reached the end I felt empowered to look at my own life and change aspects of it that had no purpose for my family. I was relearning something my Mother taught me a long time ago, “Be Still.”
I think of this book often, especially when I feel a bit overwhelmed by things. I know whomever comes across it and takes the time to read and feel what Kathryn Cushman was weaving in her words, will walk away happier and a little more at peace with things in their life. It would make the perfect gift for any woman, friend, spouse or family that honestly looks as though they could use a few moments of peace… a few words that say, “It’s okay to slow down, it’s okay to just ‘be'”, without it being a self-help book.
You can read more about Kathryn Cushman on her website as well as an excerpt from Almost Amish to see if it appeals to you! Almost Amish is available on Amazon for $11.57 in Paperback, $30.99 on Hardcover, Large Print and $9.99 for Kindle.
I did not receive anything for this promotion. I picked this up at the local library and felt it would make a wonderful gift.