"She realized there was peace right here in the midst of this heavenly sort of place, despite the unpredictable storm churning around her family."
For generations, Ellie Hostetler's family has tended their Lancaster County orchard, a tradition her twin brother, Evan, will someday continue. Yet when Evan's draft number is called up in the lottery for the Vietnam War, the family is shocked to learn he has not sought conscientious objector status, despite their Old Order Amish belief in non-resistance. The faraway war that has caused so much turmoil and grief among their Englisher neighbors threatens too close to home.
As Evan departs for boot camp, Ellie confides her disappointment to Sol Bontrager, the brother of her best friend and cousin to her new beau, Menno. In contrast to Evan, Sol is a conscientious objector. Despite Ellie's attraction to Menno, she finds herself drawn to Sol's steady presence as they work together in the orchard. Suddenly, it feels as if everything in Ellie's world is shifting, and the plans she held so dear seem increasingly uncertain. Can she and her family find the courage to face a future unlike any they could have imagined?
The Orchard by Beverly Lewis is a
touching Amish tale. It is well-written
with relatable characters. We get to
know Ellie Hostetler and her family. Ellie
along with her twin brother, Evan and their parents are the central characters. We follow them as they go about their day to
day lives during the Vietnam War. Evan
gets a low number is the draft lottery.
He failed to register as a conscientious objector, so Evan is soon
drafted and sent off to war. The Hostetler’s
live in Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania which has a close-knit Amish community. Everyone
is praying for Evan to return home safely and return to the fold. Ellie loves her family orchard. If she had been born a boy, Ellie would
inherit the orchard she loves. Instead,
Evan is the one who stands to inherit the farm, but he is not sure that is the
path he wishes to go. There are several
subplots. I like how everything worked
together. The point-of-view switched
between Ellie and her father, Lyle.
The Orchard is a good book, but I did not find it as engaging as this author’s
previous novels. The biggest problem was
the pacing which was leisurely (you know the 90-year-old woman with the walker
who slowly goes across the road while you are waiting to turn right—that is the
pace of this book). It took quite a
while for the author to set the stage (introduce the characters, the orchard, etc.). I admit that I did some skimming to get
through it (laundry days, all the meals, letter writing). I wish there had been some editing (take out
about a hundred pages). I like the
characters' strong faith. They know that
God is watching out for them, and they are firm believers in the power of
prayer. I did feel that the author
captured how people felt about the Vietnam War and conscientious objectors. The Orchard has a good ending, but I do feel that
Evan’s story is incomplete. The Orchard
is a tender Amish tale with apple picking, pretty peach blossoms, Vietnam war
woes, a tender romance, and powerful prayers.