Soon-to-be high school junior David Harper hates his family's move to the country. There's nothing to do, and he misses his friends in the city. But he doesn't have a choice. His mother's job is in Mason County now, so David and his mom are too, and he has to make the best of it. At first, the only redeeming feature of David's new home is the swimming hole across the field from his house. Then David meets Benjamin Killinger, and suddenly life stops being so dull.
Benjamin is Amish, and cooling off in the swimming hole is one of the few liberties he and his brothers enjoy. A friendship with an English boy is not-but that doesn't stop him and David from getting to know each other, as long as it's on the neutral ground by the creek. After David risks his life to save Benjamin's father, the boys' friendship is tolerated, then accepted. But before long, Benjamin's feelings for David grow beyond the platonic. Benjamin's family and the rest of the community will never allow a love like that, and a secret this big can't stay secret forever.
©2013 Geoff Laughton (P)2014 Harmony Ink Press
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"Young English/Amish M/M romance in rural Michigan"
When David Harper and his mother move to a rural area outside Ludington Michigan, David is bored and resentful and knows no one in the area. Added to that, he's feeling a bit marooned in that he has no car when his mother is at work.
What David does have is a stream and a swimming hole nearby. Then David meets Benjamin Killinger, an Amish boy his age who just might share some of David's interests...
This novel has an interesting plot-line and touches on just how difficult it is for someone who's been raised Amish to leave that community. However, the novel is handicapped a bit in that there is a lot of telling and not as much showing. That tended to make it difficult to fully engage with the story and to fully empathize with the characters or even to envision them as more fully realized, three dimensional characters.
In addition there are some points where the story strained my credibility. There is a storm scene that just did not "ring true." Not that there aren't big storms in that region, there are. It's just that the characters' reactions did not feel organic. Also David's reaction when he and Benjamin are discovered just seemed too immature for a high school senior. Conversely, the counsel of his gal-pal seemed too worldly for a girl still in high school. Finally, it seemed like the Amish concept of Rumspringa was handled poorly or perhaps not fully understood by the author.
This (debut?) novel is worth the reading time, but might have been better in the hands of a more experienced storyteller. I look forward to seeing what the author does next.
I listened to the audio-book version of this narrated by Paul Morey. His portrayal of the voices of both boys was well done and his portrayal of the women in the piece was effective if not inspired. Overall, the audio version was a good but there was a monotone aspect to this that I'm undecided about. It may have been a factor of the way that the tell-heavy, show-light, prose was structured as much as the voice performance.
"A Good Heart, A Good Read"
I did not even pay attention to the fact that this is a young adult title as one would find at the Harmony Ink site until I realized that the writing was not exactly aimed at older adults. Nonetheless the story was still compelling even if the outcome was going to be obvious. I still liked the warmth and thoughtfulness put into the well worth-while message and can appreciate that young gay teens need these kind of titles to represent their needs. The narration was spot on. Well done!
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