Reviewed by Sarah Varland
Along Wooded Paths by Tricia Goyer
"...a captivating story of a young Amish woman making choices in life—about love, her faith, and her responsibilities to her family."
I’m never surprised when I can’t put down a romantic suspense
novel—after all, who can stand not knowing what will happen to the
characters?—but even though I love them, I’ve never had such
a hard time putting down a romance novel. Especially towards the end of
the book, I literally couldn’t stop reading this one. Along Wooded
Paths, the second in Tricia Goyer’s Big Sky series, was a captivating
story of a young Amish woman making choices in life—about love, her
faith, and her responsibilities to her family.
Marianna Sommer’s family has just moved to Montana, to a small Amish settlement there. While the Amish people still follow their traditional faith, some of their rules are more relaxed since the untamed west dictates that neighbors rely on each other for help in difficult times, whether they share the same faith or not. Life in Montana is different than anything Marianna has ever known, and something about the change, whether it’s just getting out of her routine or walking to work with the big sky stretching above her and reminding her of how close God is, has challenged her thinking on religion and how people relate to God. She has always loved the simple life of the Amish people, but the Christianity she sees modeled by several of her new friends appeals to her too. Her two love interests represent these two sides and Marianna struggles to choose between the two of them and the faiths they represent.
This story has plenty of romance, but I appreciated that it didn’t follow the traditional ‘romance’ formula where the readers know from the beginning of the book who will end up together. Both men have points of view in the book and that adds depth to the story as the reader gets to know each of them. Not knowing for sure who Marianna would end up choosing was part of what kept me glued to the pages of this book. I appreciated feeling Marianna’s uncertainty right along with her as she wondered where her heart and God were leading her.
The story Goyer tells is one anyone can relate to—it’s a classic coming-of-age tale about a young woman growing to maturity, deciding what she believes, and learning to love those around her the way Jesus would want her to. I was intrigued by the plot and my own faith was challenged as I read. I’m practically counting down until the next book comes out and I’ll definitely be reading more from this author.
Sarah Varland lives in Georgia with her husband, son, and two dogs. When she's not busy teaching high school English or walking around with her nose stuck in a book, she enjoys spending time with her family outdoors doing things like hiking and kayaking. Sarah is currently pursuing publication as a novelist and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. You can read some of her thoughts on life, books, and the ministry fishbowl at her blog.