Promise to Cherish by Elizabeth Byler Younts
Title: Promise to Cherish
Author: Elizabeth Byler Younts
Elizabeth Byler Younts’ new series was introduced to readers in the first book, Promise to Return in October 2013. When I read that story, I fell in love with the way the author showed the Amish lifestyle and English lifestyle without lifting one above the other. Instead, she beautifully shared the point of view that each world had some things to offer the other, that people had both positive and negative choices and neither lifestyle was completely perfect. Her characters were rich in transparency along with presenting how the Amish may have lived with being pacifists during war time.
In this tale, we are introduced to a young woman named Christine, who became a nurse, attempting to work at a hospital that houses a variety of people with mental handicaps and struggles. The author informs the readers how some people in society were named and dealt with back during WWII, unlike today. The novel then shows us a young man named Eli who is a “conscientious objector” to war believing there has to be alternate means to settle disputes.
I was intrigued by the way society put people away to be cared for by others, but not having their basic of needs met. The work in the Hudson River State Hospital shows readers how the demands for material and care were definitely higher and many going without decent treatment. The story takes readers from that setting to individualized situations between workers after their shifts are over. In one case, Christine makes a choice she knows to be wrong, but throws caution to the wind only to find her in a situation that quickly spirals out of control.
Finally, readers are taken to Eli’s home where he grew up. He asks Christine to accompany him until she makes her decisions for the future. As time in the novel progresses, we are let into the possible budding romance of Eli with Christine. The questions of in which world they would live in as one is Amish the other English, the ending shows a beautiful weave of the best of both worlds. The novel is one where the reader’s heart will be touched by both the lack of care extended to people with mental health needs and tugged by the patience of Eli, reaching out to Christine with a profound love.
My rating is 4 stars.
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