Amy Clipston. A Simple Prayer. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2015. See here to buy the book.
A Simple Prayer is Book Four of the Hearts of the Lancaster Grand Hotel
series. I have to admit that I have not read the previous three books
of the series. I was not lost when following the plot of A Simple Prayer,
and I still enjoyed the book, but I probably would have appreciated
some scenes more had I read the previous three books. For example,
Hannah, who left the Amish community to marry Trey in a previous book,
finally became reconciled with her Amish daughter Lillian in A Simple Prayer. Saul and Madeleine continue their romance, which began in a previous book.
A Simple Prayer is about Aaron, who left the Amish community
seventeen years ago and is returning after learning that his mother has
had a stroke. Aaron left the community in disgrace after running with a
wild crowd and inadvertently setting fire to the bishop’s barn.
Aaron’s brother Solomon is not happy about his brother’s return and
refuses to forgive him. Another significant character is Linda, who
lost her parents in an accident when she was young and now takes care of
her sour Uncle Reuben. Aaron and Linda develop feelings for each other
as they share their problems and offer each other advice, and Linda
wants Aaron to stay rather than returning to his business in Missouri.
While the book does drag on a bit in rehearsing these problems, we learn
that there is actually more to the problems than meets the eye.
There were many aspects of this book that interested me: How can
people forgive? How can a person be pious and read the Bible, on the
one hand, yet refuse to forgive, on the other? There are also themes of
loneliness and finding confidence and self-esteem. And there is a
poignant passage in which Aaron contrasts his mother after her stroke
with his memories of his mother. It was easy for me as a reader to
empathize with the characters: Linda in her bashfulness, Aaron in his
loneliness, Uncle Reuben and Solomon in their bitterness, the bishop in
his forgiveness, and Lillian in her desire to become reconciled with her
mother, yet not quite knowing how to do so.
There are a lot of books out there with themes of return,
forgiveness, and romance. I am unable to understand or articulate what
exactly sets A Simple Prayer apart from them, in my mind, but I
did enjoy the book, even if there are similar stories out there, some
told well, and some told not-so-well. I think that what I especially
appreciated about the book was that there was a quiet dignity about it.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers, in exchange for an honest review.