Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A Simple Hope - Rosalind Lauer (Ballantine - Mar 2014)

Series: Lancaster Crossroads (Book 2)


Ever since the accident that confined him to a wheelchair, James Lapp has fought relentlessly to regain his strength. He knows he must be whole and healthy to run his family’s orchard and provide for Rachel King, the young woman he plans to marry. But when he defies his father’s wishes and seeks treatment outside their close-knit Amish community, James discovers just how long and treacherous the road to recovery will be. Unwilling to saddle a wife with his troubles, James decides he must part with the woman he loves.

Rachel won’t give up her dream of being a devoted wife to James, and it breaks her heart to watch him shut her out. Then their lives change forever when a runaway Englisher girl hides in the Lapp orchard. Rachel and James feel they must risk the disapproval of their friends and neighbors to help her. Will the young stranger bring them closer -- or will the consequences of a shared secret tear them apart once and for all?

Good book. James and Rachel are survivors of an automobile crash and are dealing with the emotional and physical consequences. James was badly injured and is now stuck in a wheelchair. He is determined to do whatever is necessary to regain the ability to walk, because he feels like "half a man". Rachel wasn't injured, but because of her love for James, the accident is still affecting her life.

I really liked how Rachel hasn't given up on her relationship with James, even though he keeps trying to push her away. She doesn't care whether he can walk or not, she just wants to be with him. She's even willing to support them with her painting. At the beginning of the book she doesn't truly realize that that is the last thing he wants. She doesn't understand that his personal self-worth depends on him being able to support her, not the other way around. As she becomes more involved in helping him get to his treatments, they are able to spend far more time together, talking about their dreams and worries. I liked that how she became more accepting of his attitude, while trying to show him that she loved him no matter what. I also loved her joy in her art, and how that art was a big part of how she coped with the turmoil in her life.

James occasionally frustrated me, especially at the beginning. He was so focused on what he couldn't do that he lost sight of what he could. At the same time, I cheered for his determination, and ached for him when he thought his father was going to stop him from getting any more treatments. It was a bit frustrating to see how impatient he was for progress, especially considering the severity of his injury. He was also frustrated by his inability to do his usual work in his family's orchard, a job that is a bone deep part of who he is. I understood his anger at his father, who didn't seem to appreciate what the orchard means to James. His relationship with Rachel is also strained because of his pride. He doesn't like feeling like "half a man" and thinks that he needs to end his relationship so she can find someone better. It was fun to see him deal with her refusal to go away. I liked seeing their relationship improve as they talked and shared their dreams and hopes.

James's life grew a little more complicated when he found the Englischer girl hiding in the shack at the back of the orchard. Though he knew what his father would tell him to do, he felt that the right thing was to help her, not send her away. Having Rachel find out was both good and bad, as having her assistance was helpful, but it put her in an awkward position too. I loved James's protectiveness, and Rachel's "mothering", as they tried to help Shandell after running away from her abusive friend. It was interesting to see how the people from two such different worlds were so easily able to learn to relate to each other. I felt bad for the situation Shandell found herself in, and loved seeing how exposure to the Amish life gave her a new perspective on her own. When her presence was discovered, it created a whole new set of problems for James and Rachel. It was interesting to see the consequences and how they affected all three.

James's father Jimmy played a big part in the book. His attitude that James should just accept his handicap was a major irritation to me. When he made the decision that the Englisch medical people could no longer come to the house, I was almost as mad as James. It was obvious that he was allowing something from his own past affect his decisions, and that James was going to suffer for it. I was glad when he grudgingly allowed James to get the treatments, even though he couldn't accept transportation help from them. His lack of empathy for James and his constant negativity toward his future was disturbing. I also didn't like his reaction to James and Rachel helping Shandell. There was a very interesting twist at the end involving the two of them that I found very satisfying.

This was the first book I have read by this author. I will put her other books on my "want to read" list, as I would like to read the others in this series.

*I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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