In The Bridge of Peace, we find Lena Kauffman, a young Amish schoolteacher, was born with a very visible birthmark. Despite people’s stares and the discomfort of being, literally, branded, Lena has learned to ignore the stares and move through life. Her community adheres strictly to the “old ways” of the Amish, and she butts heads when she needs the rules to be bent slightly for a troubled student. When she turns to an Englischer (a non-Amish) friend for help, she alienates the school board — except for her old friend Grey, who’s going through troubles of his own, including problems with his marriage and struggles with his son. In the midst of all of this pain and struggle, there is a terrible accident, and then Lena and Grey are left to rebuild, quite literally, a bridge of peace, between themselves and the other Amish.
I didn’t realize when I got this book that it was the second book in the series (the first is called The Hope of Refuge). I think having read the first book would have helped me a little in knowing the characters, especially Lena, but overall I was able to read and enjoy it without having read the first book in the series. (Also, there’s a glossary of who’s who, which helped me in the beginning and throughout the book.) This is the second book by Woodsmall I’ve read (the first is When the Heart Cries) and I really enjoyed it. I think a lot of my comments about these two books are the same: while this book has a firm foundation of faith (it’s about the Amish, after all!), it’s not an overtly religious book, and it’s not a deeply literary novel, either. As far as Amish books go, it’s not especially original, but that didn’t bother me because my expectations were appropriately met based on the other Woodsmall book I’ve read. I liked the characters, I thought the plot was plausible enough, and I was left intrigued enough to want to read both the first and third books in the series.
My biggest problem with these books is that the covers depict all of these Amish women being beautiful. I think that’s a little off-kilter for books that are supposed to be geared at a woman’s insides, not her physical beauty.
Overall, I would rank this book as average (I’ve read much better but I’ve also read much, much, much worse!), and in this case, average is good enough.
(I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. I was asked to review this book fairly based on my own opinions and not asked to make a positive review in return for receiving the book, but an honest one.)