Two highly driven, stressed-out mothers. Three teenagers. A summer of living a simple Almost Amish life. The makings of a great book . . . or a cheesy story about a fake "reality TV" experience? I'm happy to say, I found it to be the former . . . in fact, one of the best books I've read in a while!
Julie and Susan are sisters-in-law who embark on quite an adventure with their children, Brian, Whitney and Angie. When the chance comes to participate in a reality TV show where they will give up all technology and most modern conveniences, Susan sees an opportunity to boost her career in television and writing. But her hoped-for results will come only if everything about this experience goes exactly right. Julie is just exhausted with her life and not sure what she is accomplishing with all her busy-ness. She never quite measures up to where she thinks she should -- in cooking, in keeping her house, in pushing her kids to accomplish their goals. She believes participating in the show will help Susan and her daughter as they try to move on after her divorce and will also be a chance for Julie and her two kids to slow down and take a break from their hectic life. It soon becomes obvious that trying to live a simple life can be pretty complicated, and by the end of summer some pretty important lessons have been learned -- some of them the hard way.
I wasn't sure what to expect in this book, but being a huge fan of Amish fiction I thought it was worth a try. Truth is, there was very little actual Amish presence in the story. But it was the Almost Amish presence that made the story so good. I've been asked and also seen other people try to explain what it is that attracts us so much to the Amish books we read and the Amish lifestyle we admire. Even though I still can't articulate the answers to those questions as well as I would like, Katie Cushman did a great job of demonstrating some of the answers in this story. Her main characters were able to simplify their lives enough to find out a lot about who they really were and to carry that over into their "real world" when the summer ended. Julie, Susan, and their kids were believable people with real strengths and flaws -- people who readers can care about and cheer on from beginning to end of the story.
(This book was provided free of charge from Bethany House Publishers for my honest review.)