About the Book
Raised in an Old Order Mennonite community, Rachel Stoltzfus is a strong-willed single woman, content living apart from mainstream society until whispers stir the moment her belly swells with new life. Refusing to repent and name the partner in her sin, Rachel feels the wrath of the religious sect as she is shunned by those she loves most. She is eventually coerced into leaving by her brother-in-law, the bishop.
But secrets run deep in this cloistered community, and the bishop is hiding some of his own, threatening his conscience and his very soul. When the life of Rachel’s baby is at stake, however, choices must be made that will bring the darkness to light, forever changing the lives of those who call Copper Creek home.
5 out of 5 (stars)
Where to begin?
First of, this is an amazing story. Not in the over-the-top gleeful way, but in the truth-about-life solemn way. The first thing that struck me about this book was that EVERY character was guilty of something that led to another character’s grief or act of sin. Most times even, it was both cases. The ripple effect of everyone’s action, small or big, resonated in such a way that led to one huge mess. It brings to light the kinds of consequences and damages that can happen when we fail others in ways that we assume are harmless. Rachel was the outcast. But what led her to becoming that started since she was a little girl. Parents, siblings and the entire community at large, at the sidelines played some role that led to the story turning out the way it did.
This story is dark in ways that I could never wish on anyone. It’s amazing how much a person could yearn for love, and the extent they are willing to go and get it. It’s also frightening the price paid when the people around you suffer when you insist on pride, self-righteousness and anger. But in the midst of this darkness, the healing power of God’s love and forgiveness was most evident, going to unbelievable depths to achieve good. Indeed, there is no brokenness caused by sin that God cannot heal.
At a certain point in this book, I shut it, closed my eyes and shook my head. I asked, ‘How in the world is this going to end right?” Everything was such a mess. But then I opened it again and continued to read because I just had to know!
Another lesson from this story—no sin is hidden under sun. You can use self-righteousness, hypocrisy, pride, anger and a lot of other shady things to try to cover it up. But if God decides at any moment to rise up and set things right, there is no where you can run and hide.
God used the suffering of a certain, little character to unfold the truth and accomplish healing. Makes you think on a lot of things you witness happening today, like, why does God let a certain innocent person suffer (or even die)? But you just never know what God is up to. This is why it is best to ALWAYS trust God. Take this from this review, ‘God watches all things. He is not unaware of the happenings around us. The only way out of sin and the burden that comes with it, is repentance. And He comes quick to rescue.’
In my opinion, this story brings out the conflicts between Rachel and Leah in the Bible, and also the ones between Joseph and his jealous brothers. At the same time it is able to stand on its own as a unique story, separate from these two. On the book cover it says it is the retelling of The Scarlet Letter, which I’ve never read. I just might find the book and pick it up some time when I have far less, to zero books on my TBR. Lol!
Overall, it’s a wonderful read. I encourage everyone to read this book. Seriously. You’d be surprised what’ll you learn and take away.
*Although I offer this review to the public, it is my opinion and simply that. Many thanks to Maggie Rowe, Senior Publicist/Tyndale House for a free copy in exchange for my honest opinion.
About the Author
Jolina Petersheim holds degrees in English and Communication Arts from the University of the Cumberlands. Though The Outcast is her first novel, her writing has been featured in venues as varied as radio programs, nonfiction books, and numerous online and print publications. Her blog is syndicated with The Tennessean’s “On Nashville” blog roll, as well as featured on other creative writing sites. Jolina and her husband share the same unique Amish and Mennonite heritage that originated in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, but now live in the mountains of Tennessee with their young daughter. Follow Jolina and her blog at http://www.jolinapetersheim.com/