Sarah's Gift

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Sarah's Gift

Pleasant Valley, #4

Experienced midwife, Sara Mast decided to join her aunt, Emma Stoltzfus in her midwife practice in Pleasant Valley, PA. Sara had been living in Ohio where she moved after marrying but her husband has died and with no children, Sara needs purpose in her life and desires to be near her family. She has corresponded with her aunt and they have discussed the practice and Sara’s arrival. When no one is at the bus station to meet Sara, she is confused but luckily Emma’s neighbor, Aaron Miller arrives to pick up a package and agrees to drop off Sara.

Aaron tries hard to be a good neighbor but he’s thrilled when he learns that Emma will be closing her midwife practice. He doesn’t understand why Sara thinks that she is coming to a thriving practice when everyone knows that Emma is getting too old and forgetful to be a good midwife. Besides, women should go to the hospital to have babies, where they will be safe. If Aaron’s mother had delivered at a hospital she wouldn’t have died.

Sara quickly learns that things aren’t exactly as she expected. Her cousin has been urging his mother to give up her home and practice to move in with him and his family. The birthing rooms that were suppose to be finished are only half started. And instead of a thriving practice, Sara learns that her aunt has only a few clients. Are Sara’s dreams turning to ash?

Aaron is beyond upset to learn that Sara plans on expanding Emma’s midwife practice. It’s not as if he didn’t have enough to think on with his youngest brother, Benjamin, getting into trouble frequently and taking so much after their father. How is he to get him to take responsibilities and become serious? It seems that all they do is fight.

As Sara and Aaron get to know each other, they discover feelings neither wants. Sara was unable to have children which drove a wedge between her and her husband. She doesn’t want to go through that again and plans to never marry. Aaron can’t accept Sara’s gift of being a midwife. Though he is beginning to have feelings for her, he can’t allow them unless she stops.

This is the fourth book in the Pleasant Valley series. You do not need to read any of the previous books to enjoy this one. Each book stands on its own though characters from the earlier books appear in the later ones. After all, the Amish community in Pleasant Valley isn’t that big!

The characters are wonderful. They are complex and very well rounded. Aaron is more than just a neighbor or a carpenter or even a big brother. He is all of this and more. He has emotional issues and has things that he must figure out on his own. He even has a hot temper which isn’t something that you see in many books about the Amish. Sara has dreams and has dealt with disappointments. Some of these disappointments have shaken her self confidence and this is an issue that Sara will have to face as a local doctor attempts to close the midwife practice down.

The community depicted feels real. There are lots of things going on within the community and Sara gets to be a part of them. This story takes you through a normal Sunday, weather it’s a church Sunday or a visiting Sunday. It also shows the interaction between the English community and the Amish community. They may be different but in many ways they share some of the same concerns. The interactions between friends, family and community make Pleasant Valley a real place.

To interest to me, was the issue of how much technology especially the need of a phone. This is something that many take for granted and assume that each Amish household has some sort of phone system. For Emma to first talk to the Bishop about the concerns about bringing a phone into her practice makes perfect sense, at least to me. I work in an old order Mennonite community and until the local gas station had the pay phones removed, no one in the community had a phone. Now, there is one in the produce business that several businesses share. For them, like Emma, this was a big step and not to be taken lightly.

In this particular story, the medical issues were pertinent to today’s world. What is the place for midwives? How should the local doctors work with them? Should testing be required for every newborn in an Amish community? There are lots of questions and no easy answers. As Sara faces English court to decide her fate as a midwife, will she get the support of her Amish community particularly Aaron or will she be looked down upon for bringing her community into a situation beyond her control?

I thoroughly enjoy my visits to Pleasant Valley. I feel as if these are real people having to make real decisions. The thoughts, issues and characters feel real and the expression of faith comes across as a central part of their lives. I leave my visits a bit sad but also enriched and I definitely look forward to my next visit. Who could not as the stories make you part of a vibrant and welcoming community?

Book Blurb for Sarah's Gift

Can an Amish midwife earn her community's trust and bring the joy of new babies to Pleasant Valley?

Amish midwife Sarah Mast moves to Pleasant Valley for a fresh start. But her aging aunt can no longer run the birthing center, leaving most of the responsibility to Sarah. Among those skeptical of Sarah's ability is neighbor Aaron Miller, who seems drawn to Sarah but pulls away when his own sister requests her services. And when a criminal complaint is filed against Sarah, she must pray for strength to defend her practice and win acceptance from the community she loves.

Night Owl Reviews Feb, 2011 5.00