Kathleen Fuller. A Love Made New. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2016. See here to buy the book.
A Love Made New is the third book of the “Amish of Birch Creek” series. I did not read the first book of the series, A Reluctant Bride, but I did read the second book of the series, An Unbroken Heart.
Even after reading the second book, I had some difficulty sorting out who was who in A Love Made New,
at least in the first half of the book. For a while, I thought that
Sol was Andrew’s brother, since both had fathers who left their family.
Then I learned that Sol’s love interest Irene was Andrew’s sister!
Should I have known better, since I had read the second book of the
series? Well, it had been a few months since I read the second book, so
some details were hazy in my mind. I doubt that I am the only one in
this situation! I think that more authors of Amish fiction should do
what Amy Clipston does, and that is to include a family tree at the
beginning of the book.
That said, can one read A Love Made New without having read
the previous books of the series? I think readers in that situation can
follow the general plots. Occasionally, some details will be puzzling
to those who did not read the previous books. For example, there is a
scene in which characters talk about someone who is in jail, and only
those familiar with the previous two books will know why that man is in
jail, and why the characters care. The romances, though, are not that
complicated to follow. And they differ from the previous books in that
they focus on other characters (who are still in the previous books, but
not as the main focus). The first book focused on Sadie and Aden. The
second book was primarily about Sadie’s sister Joanna and her love
interest, Andrew. And the third book is about Abigail, a sister of
Sadie and Joanna, and her relationship with a new character, Asa. The
third book also talks about a romance between Andrew’s sister Irene and
Sol, who is Aden’s brother. Although the third book focuses on
different characters, it still revisits plot-lines of the second book,
namely, Bartholomew, the father of Andrew and Irene, who left the family
years before because he was part of the witness protection program.
In A Love Made New, Abigail’s boyfriend Joel breaks up with
her and reveals that he is seeing somebody else, Rebecca. Abigail is
insecure about her weight and her temperament, and the break-up only
makes her feel worse. But Asa comes into her life! Asa used to live in
the same place as Abigail, but his family moved away. Asa was known as
a ladies’ man before he moved away: all of the ladies liked him! Now
Asa has returned, and he is showering his attention upon Abigail.
What’s more, Asa claims that God told him to do this!
Then there is Sol and Irene. Sol is an alcoholic, and his drunken
mischief (I am assuming) got him banished from the community for some
time. Now he has returned, and Irene is reaching out to him to try to
welcome him back. Sol is still dealing with his resentments. His
father, who was a bishop, left the family, and his father was also
abusive to Sol and Aden.
Meanwhile, Irene, her mother Naomi, and her brother Andrew are
dealing with the absence of the father of their family, Bartholomew.
They love Bartholomew and still consider him part of the family. This
situation reminds me of Chicken George’s family in the 1977 miniseries Roots:
Chicken George was away for long periods of time, but his family loved
him and welcomed him back whenever he could return, almost as if he had
never left! Bartholomew’s family receives letters from Bartholomew,
which upsets Mike, who oversees Bartholomew in the witness protection
The book had its share of positives. Abigail’s attempts to fake a
smile at Joanna’s wedding stood out, as Abigail was hoping that her
fake, exaggerated smile did not make her look creepy! Not only can I
identify with that, but this scene effectively conveyed the pain that
Abigail was trying to endure, even as social niceties required her to
act happy at her sister’s wedding. Sol and Irene pray together, and Sol
apologizes for praying more about his own problems than those of
Irene. And Asa finding his calling made him a character with whom one
In terms of negatives, the book was rather repetitive. I am not
saying that Abigail and Sol should have gotten over their insecurities
quickly, for that is not realistic. But the book would have done better
to have probed or explored different aspects of their insecurities,
rather than covering the same ground over and over. Perhaps more
flashbacks or diverse reflections could have accomplished this. This
not only would have made the book more interesting, but it also would
have made the characters more rounded and realistic. When Sol is
struggling to forgive his father, for example, the book could have added
more of the thought processes that led him to forgiveness.
The book also should have had more of an element of mystery, rather
than telling readers things, then repeating those things over and over.
To be fair, the book did have its share of mysteries. It is only later
in the book that we get Sol’s story about his father. Bartholomew is
wondering why he is still in the witness protection program, when the
criminals are in jail, and we get an answer to that. But the book could
have been more intriguing had it, for example, opened with Sol hearing
from God, wrestling with God, and reflecting on his supernatural
experiences as of late. Sol’s supernatural experiences were significant
in the book, but they could have been better explored and developed.
That said, I am still open to reading other novels by Kathleen Fuller. The one coming out in March 2017, Written in Love,
focuses on Sol’s best friend Jalon. And, after reading a few
references to the plot of the first book of the “Birch Creek” series in
the sequels and summaries, I may read A Reluctant Bride.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through BookLook Bloggers. My review is honest.