Until Then

Written by Erin Woodsmall
Review by Elizabeth Knowles

In this standalone timeslip novel, Celeste and Vin Lantz live in 1985 Pennsylvania. They are Old Order Amish, and while Vin is a respected carpenter, his hobby of sketching portraits is considered idolatry. When he and Celeste argue about this, he leaves to be alone for a while and find peace. Instead, he is transported back in time to 1822 Ohio. Here he struggles to survive, to make friends, to help slaves trying to escape from the American South, and most of all, to get back to his own time and family. Celeste battles grief and the pain of not knowing what happened to her husband. She deals with a lack of social support and money. Trying to support herself and her children, she undertakes to continue Vin’s carpentry business.

I liked the brave, deserving characters working tirelessly to be with those they loved, although the difficulties seemed insurmountable. The plotting is cluttered. I thought there was too much story packed into one book, and toward the end, the time travel element just started to be silly. I’d have preferred to see two books, one a historical novel showing how abolitionists, some of them Amish, helped enslaved people reach freedom. The second book would be a contemporary novel dealing with a young Amish couple trying to raise their children with Amish values in the modern world.