July 12, 2014

The Midwife

The Midwife
by Jolina Petersheim

Normally if I look at the cover of a novel and there are Amish or Mennonite head coverings or dresses on the cover I don't even bother reading the back cover let alone the book. You see for three and a half years I lived about 15 minutes north of a large area of Mennonite and Amish in OH, my husband grew up Mennonite and my in-laws both grew up Amish. So I didn't really have any interest in reading novelizations of their lives since from first hand experience I wasn't overly impressed.

But this book was absolutely riveting. I couldn't put it down! The story was so well told and didn't focus so much on Amish or Mennonite as much as it did on childbirth, surrogacy, and unwed mothers. I really appreciated the story covering the topic of surrogate mothers and the turmoil they go through since I've never read a book with that focus.

My heart broke for Beth when she found out the child she was carrying for Meredith and Thom might have "defects" and even though I would normally not ever condone a surrogate mom not wanting to do whatever the parents wanted I was glad that Beth was more interested in the welfare of the child she was carrying than what the mother thought.

Equally my heart broke for the young women in the home for unwed mothers that had been taken advantage of and ended up pregnant with no where to go. I was glad the Mennonite community had a home that was taking these girls in and helping them through such a difficult time in their lives.

I loved how Petersheim took all the different story lines throughout the book and weaved them together in a way that I least expected. Her characters, especially Beth, were delightful. And her attention to detail was impeccable.

As I mentioned before my husband grew up in a Mennonite Church. His wasn't as strict as the one in this book but he did grow up speaking Pennsylvania Dutch and I saw a lot of words that I recognized from his family in the book. Since I studied Spanish Linguistics in grad school I enjoyed the Pennsylvania Dutch thrown in throughout this book. It really added a level of authenticity to the novel.

If you love the Amish / Mennonite fiction books that are ever so popular right now you'll really like this book.

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