Lost. Desperate. Heartbroken. Three sisters—one a no-nonsense, serious, young adult who gets things done; another, a blissfully joyful soul who only sees the good in everyone; and one venturesome girl with each foot in two different worlds—searching for new possibilities after being left all on their own.
How would you handle life if both of your parents were gone before their prime?
Frona, Eva and Lily in “The Photograph” by Beverly Lewis are wondering what is out there for them. Where do they go now? Their four brothers are no help in securing a permanent home for them. In fact, their world is about to be shattered in more ways than one.
The Esch family’s life transports the reader buggy-fashion into a fascinating, foreign culture never imagined by most of us in the modern world. Simple. Honest. Order. Routine. Family-centered. Quiet. Perhaps inconvenient—no electricity, no cars, no machines to make everything easy. Maybe even boring to some with no Smart gadgets to rule their every waking moment. Safe? Hardly.
Women were expected to be married by their 20s, which would supply them with a wage-earning husband and a secure home for all their future days. So the brothers were not at all concerned where Frona, Eva and Lily would go even though none of them had any hope for a husband on the horizon.
Was this the 1890s? No, just the ordinary and simple lives of Amish women left to their own devices in the 1980s.
And this is where life gets sticky as a bun. One of the sisters never felt she was part of the family. She wondered if freedom on the “other side” was more exciting, especially with an Englisher. Besides, it would probably make it easier on her sisters if she just disappeared–one less mouth to feed. Imaginations get sticky as a caramel when two of the sisters meet men who could change their lives.
The good boy and the bad boy. The safe one and the dangerous one.
Their Mama had warned them, “…be ever so careful what tracks you make, and where they might lead those who follow.” But what does a simple photograph have to do with any of this?
“The Photograph” is, at first glance, comfortable and encouraging–a true lesson in “accepting the Will of God in your life.” What I most like about this story is that it quickly demonstrates that Christians do, in fact, have problems in life—that they don’t just live a fantasy-filled, quiet existence as some might believe. It reminded me that running away from life never works as “you’ll spend the rest of your life pretending to be what you’re not.”
So, can the world change you? The three sisters found out that this is a personal conversation each of them had to have with the One who created each and every unique human being.
I give this book a 4 Armchair rating. It’s a delightful, easy read for cuddling up with a blanket, hot chocolate and popcorn. The pace is a bit slow—maybe just like the Plain life. But watch out. The surprise will get you right in the heart!