The Past - Graduate student Beth Winslow was sure she was ready to navigate the challenges of becoming a surrogate. But when early tests indicate possible abnormalities with the baby, Beth is unprepared for the parents' decision to end the pregnancy - and for the fierce love she feels for this unborn child. Desperate, she flees the city and seeks refuge at Hopen Haus, a home for unwed mothers deep in a Tennessee Mennonite community.
The Present - As head midwife of Hopen Haus, Rhoda Mummau delivers babies with a confident though stoic ease. Except in rare moments, not even those who work alongside her would guess that each newborn cry, each starry-eyed glance from mother to child, nearly renders a fault through Rhoda's heart, reminding her of a past she has carefully concealed.
Past and present collide when a young woman named Amelia arrives in the sweeping countryside bearing secrets of her own. As Amelia's due date draws near, Rhoda must face her regrets and those she left behind in order for the healing power of love and forgiveness to set them all free.
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©2014 Jolina Petersheim (P)2014 Oasis Audio
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"Very touching story"
Jolina Petersheim has written a very involved story that moves backward and forward in time, and is alternately told through the voices of Rhoda, Beth and Amelia. In some books this can be difficult to sort out--but I found that to be no problem here--it was very clear who was speaking and at which time period.
Beth (in 1996) is a graduate student, studying bioethics, who decides for personal reasons to become a surrogate mother for her professor and his wife. Early pregnancy tests suggest that the child she is carrying might have serious abnormalities. Based only on this early possibility the parents ask Beth to terminate the pregnancy as they do not want to take this risk. Beth, however, cannot imagine doing that, and so flees to Hopen Haus, a Mennonite home for unwed mothers.
The remainder of the book concerns the subsequent unfolding of events--both tragic and redeeming (through the past and present points of view). Beth finds great comfort living with the Mennonites, and decides to become one of them--as well as becoming a midwife who now works in Hopen Haus. She changes her name to Rhoda (who tells her story in present day time). Because she has a great secret to hide, this provides a good protection for her. Amelia's arrival begins to focus the story in new directions--as Rhoda and others in the community must face a crisis that will effect many. The story moves faster and faster as the climax approaches, and there are a number of twists that makes it all interesting.
The ending seemed a little too forced, but it basically was a good read (listen). The narration was effective as well. The story had some religious overtones, but that was clear going into the book and worked with the story. I liked it--but think it might appeal to kind of a narrow audience.
"DEPRESSING!! Very well read though."
I thought all along that this story must have been written in the midst of grief as it is full of grief from one chapter to the next, and I was right. There needed to be some more evidence of God's work, something tangible to cling to from God's Word.
"Just not for me"
This book probably wasn't horrible. It was just horrible for me. The mushy drama got on my nerves.
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