It took a while for me to really "get into" this story. For a good part of the book, the storyline was pretty melancholy. In some places there was so much detail that it was tedious to read -- things such as which roads were being plowed, which roads the drivers were traveling, and so on.
But, by reading quickly past some of the slower moving sections, I found a rich, engaging story of loss and renewed hope and love. Jerusha has suffered devastating loss and has given up on everything she believed, even God himself. Only after a life-threatening disaster can she find a way to heal from the deep hurts she has held deep inside. Following the journey of her healing and the changes going in the other people affected by her life makes for an interesting and encouraging resolution.
Not your traditional Amish story -- but a story worth enjoying.
It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
Today's Wild Card author is:
and the book:
Harvest House Publishers (February 1, 2013)
***Special thanks to Ginger Chen for sending me a review copy.***
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Visit the author's website.
SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:
Amish + Quilts = readers delight! And in this first book in Patrick Craig’s Apple Creek Dreams series, readers will follow master quilter Jerusha Springer’s journey out of tragic circumstances to a new life of hope. A beautiful story of loss…and redemption.
List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (February 1, 2013)
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
Jerusha Springer reached behind the quilting frame with her left hand and pushed the needle back to the surface of the quilt to complete her final stitch. Wearily she pulled the needle through, quickly knotted the quilting thread, and broke it off.
Finished at last. She leaned back and let out a sigh of satisfaction. It had taken months to complete, but here it was—the finest quilt she had ever made.
Thousands of stitches had gone into the work, seventy every ten inches, and now the work was finished. It had been worth it. The quilt was a masterpiece. Her masterpiece...and Jenna’s.
She grabbed a tissue and quickly wiped away an unexpected tear.
If only Jenna were here with me, I could bear this somehow.
But Jenna wasn’t there. Jenna was gone forever.
Jerusha glanced out the window as the November sun shone weakly through a gray overcast of clouds. The pale light made the fabric in the quilt shimmer and glow. A fitful wind shook the bare branches of the maple trees, and the few remaining leaves whirled away into the light snow that drifted down from the gunmetal sky.
Winter had come unannounced to Apple Creek, and Jerusha hadn’t noticed. Her life had been bound up in this quilt for so many months—since Jenna’s death, really—that everything else in her life seemed like a shadow. She stared at the finished quilt on the frame, but there was no joy in her heart, only a dull ache and the knowledge that soon she would be free.
She had searched without success for several months to find just the right fabric to make this quilt, and then she stumbled upon it quite by accident. A neighbor told her of an estate sale at an antique store in Wooster, and she asked Henry, the neighbor boy, to drive her over to see what she could find. The Englisch had access to many things from the outside world, and she had often looked in their stores and catalogs to find just the right materials for her quilting.
On that day in Wooster she had been poking through the piles of clothing and knickknacks scattered around the store when she came upon an old cedar chest. The lid was carved with ornate filigree, and several shipping tags were still attached. The trunk was locked, so she called the proprietor over, and when he opened it, she drew in her breath with a little gasp. There, folded neatly, were two large pieces of fabric. One was blue—the kind of blue that kings might wear—and as she lifted it to the light, she could see that it seemed to change from blue to purple, depending on how she held it. The other piece was deep red...like the blood of Christ or perhaps a rose.
The fabric was light but strong, smooth to the touch and tightly woven.
“I believe that’s genuine silk, ma’am,” the owner said. “I’m afraid it’s going to be expensive.”
Jerusha didn’t argue the price. It was exactly what she was looking for, and she didn’t dare let it slip through her fingers. Normally, the quilts that she and the other women in her community made were from plainer fabric, cotton or sometimes synthetics, but lately she didn’t really care about what the ordnung said.
So, pushing down her fear of the critical comments she knew she would hear from the other women about pride and worldliness, she purchased it and left the store. As she rode home, the design for the quilt began to take form in her mind, and for the first time since Jenna’s death, she felt her spirits lift.
When she arrived home, she searched through her fabric box for the cream-colored cotton backing piece she had reserved for this quilt. She then sketched out a rough design and in the following days cut the hundreds of pieces to make the pattern for the top layer. She sorted and ironed them and then pinned and stitched all the parts into a rectangle measuring approximately eight and a half feet by nine feet. After that she laid the finished top layer out on the floor and traced the entire quilting design on the fabric with tailor’s chalk. The design had unfolded before her eyes as if someone else were directing her hand. This quilt was the easiest she had ever pieced together.
The royal blue pieces made a dark, iridescent backdrop to a beautiful deep red rose-shaped piece in the center. The rose had hundreds of parts, all cut into the flowing shapes of petals instead of the traditional square or diamond-shaped patterns of Amish quilts. Though the pattern was the most complicated she had ever done, she found herself grateful that it served as a way to keep thoughts of Jenna’s absence from overwhelming her.
Next she laid out the cream-colored backing, placed a double layer of batting over it, and added the ironed patchwork piece she had developed over the past month.
On her hands and knees she carefully basted the layers together, starting from the center and working out to the edges. Once she was finished, she called Henry for help. He held the material while she carefully attached one end to the quilting frame, and then they slowly turned the pole until she could attach the other end. After drawing the quilt tight until it was stable enough to stitch on, she started to quilt. Delicate tracks of quilting stitches began to make their trails through the surface of the quilt as Jerusha labored day after day at her work. The quilt was consuming her, and her despair and grief and the anger she felt toward God for taking Jenna were all poured into the fabric spread before her.
Often as she worked she stopped and lifted her face to the sky.
“I hate You,” she would say quietly, “and I’m placing all my hatred into this quilt so I will never forget that when I needed You most, You failed me.” Then she would go back to her work with a fierce determination and a deep and abiding anger in her heart.
And now at last the quilt was finished—her ticket out of her awful life.
“I will take this quilt to the Dalton Fair, and I will win the prize,” she said aloud. “Then I will leave Apple Creek, and I will leave this religion, and I will leave this God who has turned His back on me. I will make a new life among the Englisch, and I will never return to Apple Creek.”
She stared at the quilt. I will call this quilt the Rose of Sharon. Not for You, but for her, my precious girl, my Jenna. The quilt shone in the soft light from the window, and Jerusha felt a great surge of triumph.
I don’t need You—not now, not ever again.
And Jerusha turned off the lamp and went alone to her cold bed.