Set against the backdrop of pre-colonial Pennsylvania, this story centers around an Old-Order Amish community on the outskirts of Lancaster County. The various families’ lives are intertwined with one another, and life on the edge of the frontier is fraught with hard work and potential peril. Pretty Betsy Zook becomes engaged to handsome Hans Bauer, while young Tessa Bauer (a foster cousin) yearns for Hans to notice her. Suddenly, the Zook farm is burned by a rampaging tribe, and Betsy and her younger brother are taken as captives. This pivotal event changes everyone’s lives.
For Betsy, she is thrust into a world of fierce warriors and gentle women. As the weeks turn into months and season follows season, Betsy begins to rethink her previous beliefs that all Indians are “savages.” One of the members of the tribe, Caleb, becomes a trusted friend as he helps Betsy to acclimate to a strange new life.
The rest of the Amish community is still hopeful that Betsy and her brother might one day return, but relationships with the local tribe begin to fray as the nearby English townspeople become overly suspicious of any Indian. The climax of the story is riveting and based on a real event that calls to question the meaning of justice and humanity. Can God be found in the midst of hatred?
Fans of Suzanne Woods Fisher will enjoy this third book in her Amish saga, and readers of Pennsylvania history will find the historical details fascinating. I would have liked a bit of background information on the differences between the Amish and Mennonites, and how the three groups (including the English) learned to live side by side, but this is still a good read.