“The Outcast, Jolina Petersheim
“The Outcast, Jolina Petersheim
This was a fabulous book about being an outcast, the black sheep of the family or in this case the outcast of the whole community. Rachel Stoltzfus moves to Tennessee to be with her sister and her family in order to help care for her. But she soon finds herself pregnant and unwed. This is a big no-no in the Old Order Mennonite community. When she is exiled she is taken in by the owner of the local Amish Store, where she is welcomed and loved despite her sin. Her newborn son Eli is diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Eli’s only hope is a bone marrow transplant. But in order to have it Rachel will have to tell her deep dark secret of who the father is.
Part of this story is told by the recently deceased Bishop Amos King. Who happens to be in heaven and the father to the new Bishop. He has an interesting view of the situation. I enjoyed his view of the infidelity and tragedy that takes place.
The author Jolina Petersheim did a great job of retelling The Scarlett Letter. The characters are believable and engaging. I was drawn in and had a hard time putting this book down. Read this great book to experience betrayal and the glory found in forgiveness.
A big high-five goes to the author Jolina Petrersheim and publisher for bringing compelling Christian books that are entertaining and give hope to the reader with stories of faith. The Book Club Network Inc. provided me with this book in exchange for my honest review and I am so grateful for their generosity. ”
“Title: The Outcast (a modern retelling of The Scarlet Letter)
Author: Jolina Petersheim
Note: I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book from www.bookfun.org
With the sequel to The Outcast, titled The Midwife, coming out next summer, please take time to read this first book that proves to be a very intriguing and captivating tale. While it is subtitled as a modern retelling of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic, The Scarlet Letter, I found the contents to be richer than the classic or other versions of the story.
There are many special earmarks that made this novel more meaningful to me than anything else like The Scarlet Letter in years. In the classic tale, the woman who committed adultery is forced to wear the letter “A” on the front of her clothing so that everyone will know her sin of adultery. The author takes that letter along with the sin it was meant to proclaim before all and weaves it into a tale that speaks to the reader’s heart. If I were to share with you how she did this, I am afraid it would steal the joy of the journey for the audience which I don’t want to do. I can say it impacted my heart and stole my breath away even after finishing the whole book.
Another gem in the writing is that no matter where the story is playing out there are many of us who will forget we are even reading a modern twist to a classic! When the community comes together to hear the church, at times they also hear a sinner confess. Then the person is forgiven and takes their place within the community again. Humanity’s sinful nature is unwrapped tenderly and put forth in this fictional tale, reminding us that no one is sinless. Yet when we are tempted, we always have choices.
As I read I through the pages, it was very interesting to see how different characters reacted to either the Bishop’s order or would listen to gossip as if it were the truth, never thinking to actually look for the truth. I thought the way the main protagonist was a twin and how the sin impacted their special bond was truly captivating. The other characters in the tale will bring before the readers different reactions and responses that deepen the story behind the story. A theme I continue to think on is how we can choose to repent or choose to remain prideful and unwilling to acknowledge the sin of pride that resides very deep within the heart. Since it resides so deeply, we need God through the Lord Jesus Christ to change us because we are so unable to change ourselves! Don’t pass up the opportunity to read the novel or give one away during this holiday time.
My rating is 5+ stars.
Note: The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility. Other reviews can be read at http://seekingwithallyurheart.blogspot.com/ . Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/lisa.johnson.75457
“Where to begin?
First of, this is an amazing story. Not in the over-the-top gleeful way, but in the truth-about-life solemn way. The first thing that struck me about this book was that EVERY character was guilty of something that led to another character’s grief or act of sin. Most times even, it was both cases. The ripple effect of everyone’s action, small or big, resonated in such a way that led to one huge mess. It brings to light the kinds of consequences and damages that can happen when we fail others in ways that we assume are harmless. Rachel was the outcast. But what led her to becoming that started since she was a little girl. Parents, siblings and the entire community at large, at the sidelines played some role that led to the story turning out the way it did.
This story is dark in ways that I could never wish on anyone. It’s amazing how much a person could yearn for love, and the extent they are willing to go and get it. It’s also frightening the price paid when the people around you suffer when you insist on pride, self-righteousness and anger. But in the midst of this darkness, the healing power of God’s love and forgiveness was most evident, going to unbelievable depths to achieve good. Indeed, there is no brokenness caused by sin that God cannot heal.
At a certain point in this book, I shut it, closed my eyes and shook my head. I asked, ‘How in the world is this going to end right?” Everything was such a mess. But then I opened it again and continued to read because I just had to know!
Another lesson from this story—no sin is hidden under sun. You can use self-righteousness, hypocrisy, pride, anger and a lot of other shady things to try to cover it up. But if God decides at any moment to rise up and set things right, there is no where you can run and hide.
God used the suffering of a certain, little character to unfold the truth and accomplish healing. Makes you think on a lot of things you witness happening today, like, why does God let a certain innocent person suffer (or even die)? But you just never know what God is up to. This is why it is best to ALWAYS trust God. Take this from this review, ‘God watches all things. He is not unaware of the happenings around us. The only way out of sin and the burden that comes with it, is repentance. And He comes quick to rescue.’
In my opinion, this story brings out the conflicts between Rachel and Leah in the Bible, and also the ones between Joseph and his jealous brothers. At the same time it is able to stand on its own as a unique story, separate from these two. On the book cover it says it is the retelling of The Scarlet Letter, which I’ve never read. I just might find the book and pick it up some time when I have far less, to zero books on my TBR. Lol!
Overall, it’s a wonderful read. I encourage everyone to read this book. Seriously. You’d be surprised what’ll you learn and take away.
“ A really good inspirational read, about twin Old Order Mennonite girls, their families secrets, forgiveness, cancer, and so much more. I will read more from Jolina Petersheim
From Goodreads sample synopsis of this book:
Raised in an Old Order Mennonite community, Rachel Stoltzfus is a strong-willed single woman, content living apart from mainstream society until whispers stir the moment her belly swells with new life. Refusing to repent and name the partner in her sin, Rachel feels the wrath of the religious sect as she is shunned by those she loves most.”
“Great audio book. The story and narration were great. Ida Mae was my favorite character that the narrator voiced. So many lives were adversely altered by all the kept secrets. Of course in the end, all came to light. This was written differently written from Rachel's and Amos's point of view. At the start of the story Amos has passed and most of the time is recollecting or looking down from heaven. This was a wondrrful debut novel and I look forward to reading much more by this author.”Susan Fryman wrote this review Wednesday, September 4, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Twin sisters struggle with sins of the past, tearing them apart. It takes a huge amount of pain and agony for them to find peace. Gripping story, unusual, but well worth reading.”Karen S wrote this review Friday, August 30, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“kindle 401 (toreadsoon)”alison d wrote this review Wednesday, August 28, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“The story begins midpoint. Rachel has already given birth to her child, and is already feeling the scorn of her Mennonite community. Her parents are not there with her, she had come to TN to help her twin sister while she was on bedrest. From the their beginning you realize the scorn her brother-in-law, Tobias King feels for her--how desperately he wants her out of his home. The first chance he gets he sends her on her way, separating her from her twin. Rachel begins to make a new life for her and her son, but soon finds herself needing those she has left behind. Is there a way to help her? Will Tobias allow her sister, Leah to help?
THE OUTCAST is a story that gets better and better with each page. Told in alternating voice of Rachel and the 'all seeing all knowing' Amos (Tobias' father who has recently passed away). When I first started reading the story, I felt like how is this a modern day retelling when the backdrop of the story is a Mennonite community? The way Petersheim weaves the two worlds together really really surprised me. When I was reading I felt a sense of how it would be for them to move in between their two world. I felt such compassion for Rachel and her sister, and I found myself surprised near the ending feeling compassion for Tobias. I loved all of the characters, I couldn't get enough of this book. I didn't want to put it down, I didn't want it to end.
You are going to love this book. Be ready to enter an amazing new world, but make sure you have a box of kleenex for this journey. I am highly recommending THE OUTCAST!”
“Wow! Not since reading Cantrell's "Into the Free," have I been so emotionally moved by a story. There were so many things that this author did well. Her writing style is emotionally evocative, and her words are expressed with such beauty that I became fully immersed in the book. Her use of characters to bring out different truths was sheer perfection. I especially loved how she used Amos's point of view from the "great cloud of witnesses" as a way of showing omniscience, but in a much more compelling fashion that is typically seen in fiction. It added more complexity and depth to the plot and revealed things the reader might otherwise not have known.
The way the author slowly trickled in the facts that led up to the night Rachel's world imploded from one bad decision was extremely well done. It drew my attention like a mystery plot and kept me wondering, until a surge of emotion hit me when secret was brought to light and the truth finally came out. The serious illness was a perfect conduit to provoke the needed revelation. The suffering Rachel felt while her son suffered was deep and profoundly written.
I loved Judah so much for so many reasons. His undying devotion going back to their childhood made him so heroic in my eyes. The pain he felt and the forgiveness he extended -- after releasing the anger that seemed very natural given the unsavory revelation -- made me want to weep for him. Even Tobias made my heart ache because of the true repentance he experienced. What a difference it can make when we own our actions and stop blaming others for our own sins, eh?
To sum things up, this was a fantastic book. In fact, of all the books that I've read this year, I think this one makes the top of my list. I read this entire book in a day. The premise intrigued me, but I've read many story plots that sounded great, but were weak in their execution. This was a powerful story on many levels. It is not a cookie cutter Amish/Mennonite plot, but unique and enthralling... for me as a reader. I normally won't read fiction about strict religious orders be they Amish or Mennonite, but this book surpassed my expectations. What a fantastic debut!”
“This book caught my eye with its subtitle naming it as a modern retelling of the Scarlet Letter. I reluctantly loved the required reading in High School and reveled over the symbolism throughout. When I picked up this book I was immediately drawn in by my previous love, but quickly won over to this new telling of the familiar story. Rachel is a young Mennonite girl with a secret. She is with child and not about to reveal the father's name. So as a result, she carries the burden of the guilt of her sin alone. Then she is forced from the life she has always known while at the same time her young son becomes ill with a mystery ailment that threatens to claim his young life. Can she handle this on her own apart from the community she has relied on her entire life? Or is there a greater objective at work steering her towards the repentance that she knows she must seek?
The original story is rampant with sins that cannot be undone and as we all learn we cannot relive our mistakes. What I love about The Outcast is that as Christians we know that redemption can be found and forgiveness sought. The story told reminds us that hatred and bitterness can scar our lives, but there is a better way and regret can only cause us to live in a stumbling numb version of the life we are capable of living.
I received a free copy of this book in return for a review from Tyndale House Publishers.”