It’s so neat to see several well-known authors come together to create novellas in one book driven by a common story base. In Amish Christmas at North Star, Amanda Flower, Katie Ganshert, Cindy Woodsmall, Mindy Starns Clark and her daughter, Emily Clark, collaborate together to do just that. What then is created is a series of tales that run parallel to one another, but yet remain them separate selves. Like most novellas though, several of the stories you are left wishing there was just a little bit more to them to see out more of the characters you bond with over the course of the tales.
The tone for the characters and place is set for the novellas in the prologue. An Amish midwife, named Rebekah, delivers 4 babies during one stormy winter’s night, each from different families and Amish backgrounds. Twenty-five years later, those babies are all living separate lives held mainly together by Christmas/birthday greetings that are exchanged each winter. Most have remained Amish due to their Amish upbringing and one has went on to live the life of an Englischer as her mother gave her away hoping to give her a better life than the one she could provide her escaping from her abusive husband. The epilogue brings the novellas back together nicely at the end, as all of the babies born that night, known in the community as Rebekah’s Babies, come back together in the end to host a fundraiser for the birthing center they were all born in, and the torch is carried on as Rebekah leaves the birthing center for the first time ever while there in an infant there and in the care of someone else (which could symbolize the passing on of the proverbial torch), to host the fundraiser. Rebekah is loosely woven into the novellas as well to keep in mind the base for the stories.
Like with any group of novellas that are clustered together into a book, there are certain novellas I preferred over the others. I enjoyed the plot behind Guiding Star by Katie Ganshert, but as much as I love music, I thought there were a few too many references and emphasis on song titles when music wasn’t really much entwined in the plot of the book. In Morning Star by Amanda Flower, I truly enjoyed her allusion to a hair cutting incident that had happened in one of her other books that I had read by her. To me, it means that she does more than writing the book- she creates as cast of characters that you come to enjoy and see bits and fragments on their lives crafted into her other novels. Cindy Woodsmall’s novella, In the Stars, incorporates a bit of mystery into the plot line and leaves you wondering why this girl suddenly decides she can’t marry her beau after everything is on the right track to marriage. And for me, having Mindy Starns Clark and her daughter Emily Clark included in the last novella in the book, Star of Grace, was icing on the cake. She is one of my favorite authors and as much as I enjoyed the other novellas, I wanted to read her novella first and then continue on with the other novellas, but I am glad I read the novellas in order in the book (although you certainly don’t have to for understanding the novellas), because it was a treat for me to read her contribution at the end.
This series of novellas is really good and one I would recommend for readers young and old. Even though it is set around Christmas time, it’s not necessarily one of those books that are so tinged with Christmas that you really only want to read it at Christmas time. I received the book in mid-January and wasn’t so inundated with Christmas in the book that I am ready for Christmas to be here again right now or that it feels out of place to read it after Christmas.
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WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group provided this book to me for free in exchange for this honest review as part of their Blogging for Books program.