About the Book
In a community where conformity flourishes, seeds of Rhoda’s odd behavior were planted long ago. Can she cultivate her relationships with the same care and tenderness that she gives her beloved garden?
Old Order Amish Rhoda Byler’s unusual gift and her remarkable abilities to grow herbs and berries have caused many to think her odd. As rumors mount that Rhoda’s “gift” is a detriment to the community, she chooses isolation, spending her time in her fruit garden and on her thriving canning business.
Miles away in Harvest Mills, Samuel King struggles to keep his family’s apple orchard profitable. As the eldest son, Samuel farms with his brothers, the irrepressible Jacob and brash Eli, while his longtime girlfriend Catherine remains hopeful that Samuel will marry her when he feels financially stable.
Meanwhile, Samuel’s younger sister Leah is testing all the boundaries during her rumschpringe, and finds herself far from home in Rhoda’s garden after a night of partying gone badly. But Leah’s poor choices serve as a bridge between Rhoda and the King family when a tragic mistake in the orchard leaves Samuel searching for solutions.
Rhoda’s expertise in canning could be the answer, but she struggles with guilt over the tragic death of her sister and doesn’t trust herself outside her garden walls. As the lines between business, love, and family begin to blur, can Rhoda finally open up to a new life? And what effect will this odd, amazing woman have on the entire King family?
5 out of 5
This story indeed depicts a season in the lives of its characters—Rhoda, Samuel, Jacob, Leah, Catherine and even Mrs. Walker—that represents different circumstances to them with different outcomes. Each of them turned out to have a different view of the issues they had to deal with at the end, in a sometimes, tough but positive way. I liked that about this story.
For a plot with so many personal stories to tell, Cindy did a marvelous job of putting all of them together and appropriately in such a way that no character overshot their space in the story. The many characters/POVs didn’t stop Cindy from doing justice in developing their personalities to a level of satisfaction either.
I also love how other introduced secondary characters—Sandra and her daughter—were kept at bay, giving a sense that they’d play a larger and vital role in the coming series [I think I’ve already guessed what it is and I’d rightly keep it to myself and wait and see how it all turns out ;)]
I love Samuel’s sense of responsibility, Rhoda’s strength, Jacob’s confident sense of humor and Arlan’s fearlessness in searching for answers. I must confess that I didn’t like Catherine at all at the beginning. She came off as immature, naïve and whiny. She always put the responsibility of Arlan’s actions on Leah and demanded that it was Samuel’s responsibility to fix it. I later started to feel empathy towards her and finally, sympathy. It takes the expertise of a skilled writer to provoke the right emotion towards a character and Cindy accomplished this well.
I’ll have to admit that Rhoda’s ‘gift’ made me uneasy. Truth be told, I wasn’t exactly sure what to do with it. On one hand, she doesn’t appear different from what Scripture calls a Medium. On the other hand, since she insists that it’s from God, she appears to follow His leading to save people. It isn’t clear which it is.
Also, when an Amish word was mentioned in a dialogue, the next sentence was literarily set up to explain the word, before diving back to the story. (For example: … He turned to her. “Du duh net verschter?” It was the Amish word for ‘You do not understand’. She shook her head …). I found that distracting. I thought Cindy should have found a way to weave the meaning into the lines without temporarily stepping out of the story to do so. Thankfully, it happened only a few times.
All said and done, I found A Season for Tending very fascinating. I’ve never read a book where the Amish were presented in such an interesting way with so much fun, humor and drama. It was a wonderful discovery. The end got my heart pumping and all I could say was, “Oh my God!” I would equate this story as a book version of a TV soap opera. I’m looking forward to knowing how it all ends, especially with Rhoda, Samuel and Jacob.
*Although I offer this review to the public, it is my opinion and simply that. Many thanks to Waterbrook Multnomah for a free copy in exchange for my honest opinion.
About the Author
CINDY WOODSMALL is a New York Times best-selling author with ten works of fiction and one of non-fiction. Her connection with the Amish community has been featured widely on national media, including ABC Nightline, the front page of Wall Street Journal, and National Geographic. A mother of three sons, two daughters-in-law and one granddaughter, Cindy lives outside Atlanta with her husband of thirty-five years. You can find Cindy on her website www.cindywoodsmall.com or her Amazon page..