The Wanderers is a an Amish novel from Paul Stutzman. I am reviewing this first chapter for his virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book.
Everything in God’s nature, Johnny observed, did what it was created to do. Everything, that is, except the human race. Johnny was born into an Amish family, into a long line of farmers and good businessmen. He is expected to follow the traditions of family and church as he grows to adulthood. But even as a boy, he questions whether he can be satisfied with this lifestyle. He wants “more” — more education, more travel, more opportunity.
His restlessness leads him down a dangerous road where too much partying and drinking result in heartbreaking consequences. He’s adrift, and no one seems to be able to help him find his direction.
Then he meets spunky Annie, who seems pure and lovely and devoted to her God. Her past, though, holds sin and heartbreak. She was a worm, she explains, but God has transformed her into a butterfly. Johnny falls hopelessly in love; and eventually he, too, finds the power of God to transform lives.
Settling down on the family farm, he forgets about the questions and the restlessness, thinking that he is happy and at home, at last.
But in a few short hours, tragedy changes his life forever, and he is again wondering… and wandering on a very long journey.
Entwined with Johnny and Annie’s story is the allegory of two Monarch butterflies, worms who have been transformed into amazing creatures specially chosen to carry out the miracle of the fourth generation. They, too, must undertake a long journey before they finally find home.
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COVER: When I first saw this cover, I thought it rather plain by Amish fiction standards. It does, however, capture that feel of the farm and features the beautiful Monarch butterflies that are vital to the story.
FIRST CHAPTER: Johnny is reminiscing about growing up on his family's farm and how he struggled to find his way in the Amish life. But then he meets Annie, and for a time, things look brighter.
KEEP READING: If you're expecting your standard Amish novel in this book, you won't find it. Having read a fair amount of this genre, I can tell you this book can catch you off guard at first, because the opening chapter isn't told through the eyes of a character who is immersed in his faith. It's told through the eyes of Johnny who is struggling to figure out where he fits into the faith he's grown up in. With the expectation being that he'll work on the family farm, he knows he's not cut out for it. He's upset that his formal education has come to a close after eight years of elementary schooling. So, if you're looking for a book that sticks closely to the genre, The Wanderers might not be for you.
That said, I like it when authors think outside the box; when they veer away from the traditional standards of a genre. At this point, I'm not 100% convinced this book is for me, but I would like to see more. The reviews from the tour so far have compelled me not to dismiss this book too quickly. I like how Stutzman opens the book with Johnny saying he was ten when he had his first taste of beer and that he was a late starter. It's a fabulous hook and totally unexpected. What other surprises might I find if I continue?
Title: The Wanderers
Author: Paul Stutzman
Genre: Amish Fiction
Publisher: Carlisle Printing
I received a copy of the first chapter of this book from the author through Pump Up Your Book. This review contains my honest opinion, which I have not been compensated for in any way.