“Promise to Return” by Elizabeth Byler Younts

Elizabeth Byler Younts has written a wonderful book, “Promise to Return”.  I am eagerly awaiting the next book, “Promise of Sunrise”.

Miriam Coblentz and Henry Mast have been a couple for a long time.  Their story takes place in 1943 during the Second World War.  When Henry is drafted, it turns their plans upside down.  Because the Amish do not believe in war, Henry is sent to a Civilian Public Service camp (CPS) supposedly for the duration of the war.  However, Henry is sure that God called him to enlist which he does.  He wants Miriam to marry him before he is sent overseas.  Because Henry is going against the Amish Ordnung, he is sure to be shunned upon returning from the war and Miriam is reluctant to cause her family more hurt.  Miriam’s family has been shamed once before when her sister Kathryn left the community to marry an Englisher, who is also now a soldier.  The story of Miriam and Henry shows just how the beliefs of this community can dictate the actions of its members.

I felt sorry for Henry most of the way through the book.  I was sympathetic and irritated at the same time with Miriam because she seemed to let her parents and other members of the community dictate what she would do with her life…her, a grown woman.  I was also quite frustrated for her that her siblings seemed to leave the care of their parents all in her hands.  They seemed to think that she should give up her life to their patents’ care while they led the lives they wanted without thought to the welfare of their parents.

I always enjoy novels portraying the Amish and the kind of life that they lead, but this time I saw practices that I would have trouble living with myself.  I think that this story will help me keep a better perspective when reading other Christian based novels.  I’m sure that the fact that the author once lived as Amish helped make this book so believable.

I received a free copy of this book from Howard Books in return for my honest review.   The opinions expressed here are my own.

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