Hannah's Joy

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Hannah's Joy

Pleasant Valley, #6

Hannah Conroy’s parents left Pleasant Valley and their Mennonite faith when Hannah was a child. Since then, Hannah’s father left them, her mother died from an overdose and Hannah left college to marry a soldier. Now, she’s a widow with a young child, Jamie. Without many options, Hannah turns to her mother’s sister, Paula Schatz for help.

Paula runs a bakery in Pleasant Valley. She is black bumper Mennonite or a Mennonite who drives a car, has electricity and a telephone but does not have a television or Internet. Paula and her husband had no children. Paula was very close to her younger sister, Hannah’s mother, and loves having Hannah staying with her. She hopes that Hannah will return to the community and will take eventually take over the bakery.

Every morning William Brandt comes from his job to get coffee for himself and his cousin he works with. William has a stutter which isn’t as bad when to talks to Jamie. Hannah is attracted to William but more important she thinks she might be able to help him with his stutter. First though Hannah must get enough courage to ask William and then William must be willing to try. Influencing William is his older brother who thinks this would be a waste of time.

Just as Hannah was being to feel as part of the community, her former life intrudes. First, her good friend and fellow military wife comes for a visit but she doesn’t understand the Mennonite or Amish way of life. Then, her father-in-law comes and threatens Hannah for living with a cult.

Hannah needs to make some decisions and feels torn from many directions. William wants to support her but can he get over his need to not talk due to his stutter and stand on his own two feet? Compromises will have to be considered and changes made.

This is the 6th book that Marta Perry has written about the community in Pleasant Valley. Each book can be read separately from the others but the characters do grow and evolve from book to book.

The characters in this book are great. Hannah has a foot in two different worlds. Actually, it’s probably closer to three. She’s been a Mennonite but doesn’t remember everything. She’s been English, or not Plain, for much of her life with modern conveniences and college. Next, she was part of a military community which offers support similar to the Mennonites but definitely different. She’s not sure where she belongs but wants what is best for Jamie. She wants/needs to honor her husband and keep his memory alive for Jamie but she also needs to find her place. William has never talked much due to his stuttering. Many people think that means he is slow but he isn’t. He also looks very young and is treated as a child by his older siblings. He’s been brought up Amish but doesn’t seem to fit in. Paula is trying hard not to push Hannah too far, too fast. Yet, she wants Hannah to join the church and help at the bakery and doesn’t understand why Hannah isn’t embracing her Mennonite roots.

The community described in this story is unique and yet very typical. There is a mesh of cultures. The community isn’t all Plain. There is a lot of English that live there, even some veterans. There are secular events which the Plain part of the community don’t get real involved in like a Veteran’s Day Parade and there are community projects that everyone gets involved in. The Plain community is also diverse. There are three types: Amish, Old Order Mennonites (horse and buggy) and black bumper Mennonites (more modern). Each has their own church services and beliefs though to most outsiders they look remarkably similar. Once you’ve joined one of the churches doesn’t mean that you can move to another. Joining the church is very serious business.

Much of this plot is a clash of cultures and a lack of understanding. From William’s brother not wanting him to work on his stutter to Hannah’s father-in-law wanting her to move away from the Mennonites, each is reacting to situations they don’t understand with their gut instinct to fear the unknown. They close their minds to that which is different without trying to understand. It’s not easy to take on the unknown.

As usual, I loved my visit to Pleasant Valley. I just wish those visits lasted longer. I started this book in the early evening and couldn’t put it down until I finished it around midnight. I became involved with the characters, their problems and their lives. It wasn’t easy to always see solutions.

This complex story that addresses a mixture of people and the misunderstandings that can occur also reminds us that listening with an open mind is important. Families and friends caused undue stress to Hannah and William when people were sure what was best for each of them. Though set in Pleasant Valley, this scenario can be found everywhere.

I’m not sure I can stress how much I enjoyed this book, and this series. I leave them feeling content and warm. I’m inspired and reminded of God’s love. The strength of faith comes through as each character tries to determine God’s will.

Once again, I strongly urge any reader of Amish romance to pick up this book. It realistically addresses the community, faith and leaves you wanting to move to Pleasant Valley.

Book Blurb for Hannah's Joy

Unexpected tragedy has left Hannah Conroy without her soldier husband and a home for her baby son, Jamie. Seeking refuge, she comes to live with her aunt in Pleasant Valley, a place she hasn’t seen since childhood, when her parents left their Old Order Mennonite faith.

Hannah finds a sympathetic friend in furniture craftsman William Brand, whose stammer seems to isolate him from his Amish community. Hannah is drawn to William, but a startling ultimatum from her former father-in-law makes it seem she must leave Pleasant Valley or risk losing her son.

As William seeks the courage to stand up for the woman who believes in him, Hannah must decide where her true home lies—in the ever-changing world she knows or in the simpler, loving community she’s found.

Night Owl Reviews May, 2012 4.50