Rooted in reality: Review of Promise to Keep by Elizabeth Byler Younts

I’ve made it no secret that I have a like-dislike relationship with Amish fiction. It is not my favorite genre in general, except when I find a series or an author that changes my mind about the genre as a whole.

And the books Elizabeth Byler Younts has written fit that latter description. Her three-book series, The Promise of Sunrise, has a unique slant–it is Amish fiction set during World War 2 and addresses the tension of a country at war and a community committed to peace.

promise to keepThe final book, Promise to Keep, released this week, and its story centers on a young unmarried Amish woman who has been raising the deaf daughter of an active-duty soldier. (Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for my review.) Esther Detweiler has been raising Daisy, the daughter of her shunned cousin, since the girl’s mother died. When Esther’s grandmother dies, she and Daisy are all they have left of family. Until Daisy’s father returns.

Joe Garrison is home from war, but the war haunts him, especially at night. He wants to be a father to his daughter, but she has no initial connection to him. As Joe and Esther work to bring father and daughter back together, their feelings for each other grow beyond the love they both have for Daisy.

Though the story started a little slow for me–which isn’t unusual for Amish fiction; I find the pace is often slower, a reflection, I think, of the lifestyle being portrayed–by the middle I was turning page after page, wondering how this was going to work out for everyone. I so appreciate the perspective of someone like Younts, who does not tell a rosy, all-is-well story without conflict or realism, and who has the family heritage–she was Amish as a child–to lend credibility to the setting and culture. Both of those characteristics are what keep me coming back to her Amish stories. I hope we have more to look forward to.

The other books in the series are Promise  to Return and Promise to Cherish but they do not have to be read in order. (Book #2, Promise to Cherish, was my favorite of the three.)