BOOK Review: Return To Grace

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Author: Karen Harper
RRP: $29.99

If you love to immerse yourself in brand new worlds through your reading but fantasy just isn’t for you then you really should pick up a copy of Karen Harper’s new novel Return To Grace.

This novel is all about straddling the line between two very different worlds and trying to find your place. Set in the Ohio Amish country this book details the struggle the Amish are facing to remain separate from the modern world. Their children grow up and want to experience the outside world and some of them are lost to the Amish way as they leave to become wordly.

Return To Grace concerns one such young Amish woman who returns to the community but is never sure for how long. She is torn between the opportunities that exist for her in the world and the love that surrounds her with her people.

Throughout the novel we watch Hannah struggle, feeling outcast in both worlds and never sure if she will ever truly find where she belongs, where she will be able to be wholly happy. None of this is helped by the fact that she unwittingly brought worldly worries upon her pacifist community.

return to grace

Even though the Amish communities are situated alongside modern towns they manage to remain separated and live with no power, no phones and no cars to name what seems to me the most significant – and no pockets actually! This doesn’t impact on their lifestyles, until violent crime comes calling and they keep discovering that they could really do with a mobile phone, a car or a gun!

I found myself caught up in how it would be to grow up in a community like that without all of the things we have grown up taking for granted. I know it wouldn’t seem nearly as incomprehensible if that was all I knew but that doesn’t change the fact that I can’t seem to grasp the concept.

The contrast between the Amish and those living in the nearest town is glaring, these wordly neighbours are very understanding and accepting of the Amish ways so the differences are not quite as glaring as they would be in a larger urban area.

Return To Grace is the culmination of coincidental events that change the course of many a life, all because a group of Goth teens had their midnight Halloween party in the wrong place.

Alongside Hannah’s struggle to find her place and make her choice between men, careers and worlds is the FBI investigation into the shots fired in the Amish graveyard.

Violence has definitely come to this small pacifist town and by the end I was gripped, compulsively turning pages to discover how the threat made it’s way to this small peace-loving community and needing to know who got the girl in the end.

Quite a twisty little close which was not what I expected, but in a good way! This book certainly delivered more than I had bargained for in the interest, intrigue and suspense stakes.

It is also part of a series, I discovered reading the author’s notes at the end of the book, so I will look forward to coming back for a visit with the Home Valley Amish community and the characters I have come to know.

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