Sadie and Leah Ebersol are as different as night and day, even though both grew up in the same peaceful and loving Amish home, and so is their choice of men. As Sadie is finishing her rebellious teen years, she comes to grips with sin and a just God, whereas quiet and gentle Leah has eyes for only one man, even though her father has other plans.
The whole novel is geared around two romances, so the content is highly romantic in nature. Most of it is very innocent, but with Sadie a lot more is implied. Nothing sinful is graphically described, but it still may not be suitable for a younger girl. Also, often young girls fantasize about romances and you may not find it appropriate to give them a book so innundated with thoughts of guys, crushes, marriage, sex, and love.
A young man kisses a teenage girl's cheek.
A young man leans his head close to a teenage girl's. His eyes are said to be "alight with love."
A teenage couple tell each other, "I love you."
A girl hurts her ankle and a guy carries her into the house. She says she is "in strong arms" and leans her head on his chest.
A young man threatens to kiss his girlfriend on the lips.
A young man and woman meet secretly in a shack in the woods repeatedly at night. Eventually, the young woman gets pregnant. They are unmarried.
A teenage boy writes another teenage girl a letter of sympathy. His sister squeals over it.
A teenage girl asks why no one has married her aunt, because she is pretty enough.
Teenagers are allowed to go about at night in secret without question from their parents during their "rumpsringa," or wild Amish days.
A teenage girl wonders if she is pretty and if a young man finds her attractive.
A girl is sad that a woman has no "husband to hug her."
Women make a quilt so a young bride and groom can "snuggle under it" during the cold season.
A teenage boy has a fascination with many women.
A teenage girl is in love with someone. Her father is angry and wants to force her to marry someone else.
A teenage boy tells his friends about a girl, "The blonde belongs to me." He admires the "curve of her lips."
A young man asks a young woman if she will kiss on her first date.
Boys are said to have been drawn to an enticing young woman. Girls are said to have turned heads and young men take notice.
A girl runs off in a car with a young man. They are said to have been kissing.
Mention of menopause, calling it, "The change of life."
A married woman becomes pregnant. Much talk of her pregnancy.
A boy asks a 13-year-old girl to sit across from him at a wedding. Young teens pair up, holding hands.
A young man calls a teenage girl, "the prettiest girl" he ever knew and "my lovely bluebird."
A middle-aged woman kisses her husband.
A young woman gives birth. (Very little description.)
Mention of cows' "underparts."
A young couple holds hands.
A couple hugs each other awkwardly. Mention of how long to wait for marriage with "feelings like this."
A teenage girl thinks she will "save her lip kissing for marriage."
A young man talks about the horrors he's seen in the war: people being "blown to smithereens," etc.
A young man offers to take a young woman to get an abortion. (She refuses.)
A young woman has a difficult labor before she births what she thinks is a stillborn baby.
A man keeps a baby from a young woman, stealing the baby from his heartbroken mother.
A young man disrespectfully tells his father, "Save it, dad!"
Christian Principles: Satisfactory
There is much talk about faith in Jesus, prayer, church, and Biblical truths, but all of it is set inside a devout Amish home. It's hard to distinguish between what is Amish tradition and what is Biblical. Also, it would be unfortunate if someone surmised, from this novel, that Christians must be Amish in order to please God.
There is talk about repentance, being called according to a purpose, not to judge others, to let God be in charge of birth control and to accept whatever children He gives, not to be wild or into the world, to trust God, that a girl in rebellion is not pretty on the inside, to resist temptation, that we are children of God, and that God created light.
But we are also told that if you disobey the Amish church your soul will die, that parents, unless they're trying to arrange their children's marriages, should have no part in their secret courtships and should not be told what actions they take or thoughts they think about those of the opposite gender, and should not punish them for sin. We are told that favoring one daughter over the other is acceptable, and that all teenagers should have a wild time of life where they can do what they want. We are also told that the Amish bishop doesn't want anyone riding on horseback, being anything but plain, getting an education above eighth grade, or writing their thoughts in a diary, because he doesn't want them to have any individuality whatsoever. Individuality is a sin.
The false Amish traditions are not distinguished from Biblical principles and the thought of allowing your child to, at the age of sixteen, be in sole charge of her courtship and marriage, without a word of advice or guidance or accountability, is frightening.