Fraying at the Edge (2016) by Cindy Woodsmall is the second novel in The Amish of Summer Grove series. This novel comes in all forms including eBook, and is 352 pages in length. With a full-time job and a five-year old at home, this novel took me four days to read. I received a copy of the novel from WaterBrook Press; all opinions expressed in this review are my own. I give this novel 5 STARS. This novel is a Contemporary Amish novel.
Here is the GoodReads blurb:
The Old Order Amish life Ariana Brenneman loved vanished virtually overnight with the discovery that she was switched at birth twenty years ago. Now she’s immersed in the Englischer world, getting to know her mother, and under the authority of her biological father, an atheist intellectual with resolute plans to expand Ariana’s worldview. Only Quill Schlabach, a childhood friend living Englisch, can help steady Ariana’s tilting ground between the two worlds, but can she trust him after so many betrayals?
At the same time, Skylar Nash is forced to choose rehab or spend several months with her true relatives, the large Brenneman family and their seemingly backward life–no electricity, no technology, no fun. What the young woman can’t leave behind is her addiction to illegal prescription drugs and a deep emptiness from the belief that she doesn’t belong in either family. New ties are binding Ariana and Skylar to the lives they were meant to have. Can they pray for the wisdom and strength they’ll need to follow God’s threads into unexpected futures?
I very much enjoyed this novel. The action is fast-paced, the conflicts are exceptionally well written, and the characters are genuine!
The main characters in this novel are Ariana, Skylar, and Quill, and the narration switches between the three of them. Of the three characters, I feel the most for Ariana. Ariana has been raised Amish for the past 20 years. Now, her biological father, Nicholas, is forcing her out of what she knows in an attempt to de-Amish her. Nicholas uses every secular thing he can to persuade Ariana to rethink God, the Bible, and her strict Amish order. I felt horrified for Ariana as she was being forced to do things she didn’t feel comfortable with. Nicholas gives Ariana a bucket list of things to do before he will let her back to her Amish family. One of the mandates is for her to go to a bar. She isn’t even 21! And, she has no life skills to protect her from bar patrons. Thank goodness for Quill who does save the day, but this really made it hard for me to respect Nicholas. He is so adamant to prove that his atheistic beliefs are the only beliefs that he forgets to see Ariana as his child and puts her into some seriously scary situations. Over the course of the novel, Ariana does reassess herself as a woman and as a daughter of God, BUT she holds fast to her relationship with God, which helps her overcome her earthly father’s seemingly harsh dictates. I really, truly loved this the most about Ariana.
One minor character I loved in this book is Cameron. Cameron is Skylar’s stepsister, now Ariana’s. Cameron is smart and witty and sarcastic. At first, this rubs Ariana the wrong way because Cameron is sort of making fun of Ariana’s “backward” ways. Ariana stands up to Cameron, and they eventually become really close. I hope this relationship continues in the final book because I really found Cameron to be a sweetheart! She becomes a helper to Ariana, which makes navigating in this scary modern world a little less intense for Ariana.
There is so much to talk about with this book! I stopped my husband in his tracks a few times to discuss many of the various topics this book brings up. One issue I really appreciated about this book is the need for strong faith and learning how to suss out fact from fiction. When you have a true faith in God, you can truly overcome anything because you are able to lean into God in all times. Ariana overcomes her conflicts with her earthly father because she truly loves God and knows that He is there to comfort her. Once she realizes this she is able to stand up for herself and decide what is true, what thinking needs to be changed, and what beliefs she absolutely must hold fast to no matter what anyone says. I genuinely appreciate Ariana’s journey throughout this novel. It reminds me a lot of my own walk with God, and the things I have had to overcome to get to the point where I am today.
This novel is beautifully written. The characters are excellent, and what they all go through definitely pulls at the heartstrings. I highly recommend this novel, and look forward to book three in the series. If you are interested in this novel, and would like the opportunity to read this book for free, click here!