"Answers don't come easily" Though this was mentioned in the protagonist's thoughts during this last book to The Amish of Summer Grove series, "Gathering the Threads" it is still perhaps the most viable lesson, thought, and truth from this series and in life. I am a person who takes her time reading. I don't devour books, I savor them, often reading up to the big climax that makes the reader wonder what will happen and if the protagonist will live or die (they'll live or I'll be done with the book) and then putting it away to sleep on the anticipation and thus draw it out just that much longer. I could not do that with this book. I tried. I simply could not do it. There was something so compelling about this book, nay the entire series. I am quite sure that if I were suddenly given a chance to live a day, weekend, week, or even a month in the Amish way of life I would welcome the opportunity. Cindy Woodsmall has a rare gift for bringing to life a culture I know nothing about and creating a desire to see and experience it.
In this book, I have to admit that there was much pain. Where the other books in the series brought on questions (questions I'm still mulling over even while I can't put them into words) this book gave pain. What's truly interesting is that I knew from the beginning where at least some of this pain would come from. I called it because of my experience with reading Amish Vines and Vineyards by Woodsmall. In that series I was (at the time) disappointed in the direction the characters' relationships took, but in this one I approved so I did not expect the pain. Somehow Woodsmall reached into my life, through the characters and their actions, drew out what has been killing me this season (as though she'd stalked me personally) and put it on to the page. I remembered little details I hadn't thought of before and wept for all that was lost right there beside Ari and still I read on. There is pain but she works the reader through the pain and for the first time in my life I can say it was cathartic. My only concern with this series is that it ended a way I didn't see coming and I'm not sure I believe was the characters choices more than they were writer imposed. Woodsmall ended two of the characters I really enjoyed together and I know they needed that but the way that it happened just didn't quite ring true to them. Not entirely, there's something that nags at me and I can't quite get it. I believe it may go with the sacrifice and which sacrifices were made.
Still, I loved this series. It is my favorite of her series thus far, though I admit I haven't read them all. I'm hoping to rectify that so I can say without a doubt that this is my favorite series. The growth the characters all underwent was amazingly well written and beautifully crafted. It is my fervent wish that everyone I know would read this series and then come sit down with me so we could discuss it. There is that much fodder for discussion. Thank you Woodsmall for sharing your gift and the world of your characters. Now, if you could only figure out how to not leave the reader out as the world of the characters matches on you would solve perhaps the world's oldest "small" problem. Please keep writing!
The painful part of life is knowing when the threads that form our pattern are loosened what we should do with them. Must they be clipped, or is there a way to tighten and gather the threads?