Amy Lillard’s newest Amish novel, Courting Emily (Zebra Books), is an exceptional book for Amish fiction fans. The novel is authentically written, and is captivating with romance, conflicts, and inspiration. Of particular interest is the careful and tender way in which Amy handles a brain injury victim. As always, it is inspiring how Amy writes of the Amish coming together to help and forgive one another.
Emily Ebersol, in her early 20’s, has been in love with Luke ever since they were schoolmates together and likewise, Luke loves Emily. Emily is the bishop’s daughter and feels the pressure of measuring up to his high standards for behavior. Luke feels a calling to leave the Amish community behind and to live with the Englischers. Luke’s goal is to make a lot of money driving racecars. He begs Emily to leave the Amish behind and go with him to live among the Englisch but Emily has already taken the kneeling vow. Luke has not been baptized yet so he feels free to go as he wouldn’t be shunned if he came back to the Amish.
Emily doesn’t know how she will go on with Luke gone. He was her whole life. Her father reminds her that Luke brought shame onto his family and Amish community by leaving. He advises Emily to move on and wisely tells her to leave her heart open for a new man. But Emily continues to pray that the lure of the Englisch world will dull for Luke and that Luke will come home to their Amish community in Wells Landing, Oklahoma. Will it be possible for Luke keep his promise to return for Emily?
Bishop Ebersol decides to have a work frolic at the dairy farm of James Riehl, an Amish father who suffered a severe brain injury in an accident. James’ family have tried to keep the farm going and keep James well cared for, but things aren’t like they use to be when James was healthy. Because of James brain injury, he sometimes seems more like a child than an adult. This embarrasses the family; they seem to want to keep James away from the public and hidden in his bedroom.
At the work frolic, Emily and James Riehl’s oldest son, Elam have a confrontation. Elam objects to the way Emily treats his father; Elam feels that his father needs to rest and stay in his bedroom. Emily feels that James needs to be around people, enjoy the sunshine and company. It seems that everything that Emily does, Elam objects. Emily isn’t about to give in to Elam and Elam isn’t about to stop protecting his father. Can these two start working together to help James recover from his injury?
Courting Emily realistically works through Emily’s feelings for both Luke and Elam with several convincing twists and turns before the happy conclusion to the novel. Amy Lillard beautifully weaves the theme of forgiveness throughout Courting Emily. This book will be published on January 6, 2015.