Tuesday, June 25, 2013

2 Heart Review: The Amish Midwife by Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould

The Amish Midwife (The Women of Lancaster County #1)
Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould

Page Count: 321

Release Date: 1 February 2011
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
Source: Complimentary copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you!)
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

A deathbed confession... a dusty carved box containing two locks of hair... a century-old letter about property in Switzerland...

Nurse-midwife Lexie Jaeger's encounter with all three rekindles a burning desire to meet her biological family. Propelled on a personal journey of discovery, Lexie's search for the truth takes her from her home in Oregon to the heart of Pennsylvania's Amish country.

There she finds Marta Bayer, a mysterious lay-midwife who may hold the key to Lexie's past. But Marta isn't talking, especially now that she has troubles of her own following the death of an Amish patient during childbirth. As Lexie steps in to assume Marta's patient load and continues the search for her birth family, a handsome local doctor proves to be a welcome distraction. But will he also distract her from James, the man back hom who lovingly awaits her return?

From her Amish parents, Lexie learns the meaning of the Pennsylvanian Dutch word demut: "to let be." Will this woman who wants to control everything ever learn to depend totally on God? Or will her stubborn determination to unearth the secrets of the past at all costs only serve to tear her newfound family apart?

A compelling story about a search for identity and the ability to trust that God securely holds our whole life—past, present, and future.
I got up to Chapter 9 of The Amish Midwife—about 100 pages of teeth gritting and eyelid drooping—before I had to put it down. While there are some interesting aspects to midwifery I enjoyed discovering and some issues regarding Lexie's coming-to-terms with her discarded Mennonite faith, everything else about the actual story, the writing style, and the characters, was unsatisfactory.

I knew I couldn't like the main character the moment she first referred herself (emphasis on first, meaning she does it more than once) as the "handsome counterpart" to her "handsome boyfriend." Do people really talk about themselves like that? Not to mention the way she treats her so-called boyfriend, leaving him without closure just so she can aimlessly tread murky waters on the other side of the country on a matter on which she is entirely clueless. She can't seem to think of anyone but herself, and doesn't have a compassionate bone in her body. This all annoyed me; it's one thing for me not to be able to relate to Lexie, but to actually not like her is an entirely different story.

This book is classified as "romance," but let me tell you: if the romantic interest does not show his face by page 100, something is terribly wrong. I admit I haven't tried my hand at Amish romances before, but even for a religious storyline, I'd expect faster action or at least proper character introduction 1/4th of the way through. I didn't even get to the romance part of this story and I was still sick of it... big red flag.

There isn't much else I can say about this one. Nothing worth mentioning that I enjoyed; nothing interesting enough to keep me reading. I actually had to fight from falling asleep in more than one sitting while reading, which means there's a large problem beyond my sleep deprivation that made it really difficult for me to read The Amish Midwife, and that problem would be The Amish Midwife itself.

Pros


Realistic tone // Struggles with faith are well-captured

Cons


Painfully slow pace // Lexie is incredibly unlikable // Character interactions are detached and flat

Verdict


With an entirely self-absorbed and socially oblivious main character, a troubling so-called "romance" story structure, and a HUGE (read: not huge) family secret that lacks all of suspense, action, and intrigue, Clark and Gould's first installment in The Women of Lancaster County was a major letdown for me. Regulars to the genre may enjoy this one better because it does have its individual aspects, such as matters of Lexie's misplaced faith and her vocation, so if you've tried Amish romances before and have liked them, please don't let my review discourage you. As for me, The Amish Midwife has turned me away from all Amish fiction; I now know to stay away from this genre Americanflag

2 hearts: Not completely a lost cause, but could not finish; I did not enjoy this book (x)