Being a young girl who feels drawn to two young men isn’t that unusual whether one lives in a big city like San Francisco or in the mountains of Montana. Is it any different for a girl if she has grown up Amish? Along Wooded Paths, by Tricia Goyer is the newest Amish fiction title in her Big Sky series and it’s that very question that is explored.
Title: Along Wooded Paths
Author: Tricia Goyer
Publisher: B & H Books (October 1, 2011)
List Price: $14.99
The story of Marianna Sommers and her Amish family that was started in book one of the Big Sky series, Beside Still Waters, is continued as Marianna spends the Fall and Winter in the small community of West Kootenai, Montana. Mari is closer to GOD than she has ever been before and she is thankful for her friendship with the Englischer, Ben. However, both Marianna and Ben feel an attraction for each other despite their different ways of life. Marianna also still feels drawn to the her childhood friend Aaron Zook, the boy she always believed she would marry someday.
When Aaron shows up in West Kootenai and is forced to stay with the Sommers family after an accident, things get even more complicated as Mari struggles to learn God’s will for her life. Ben makes some important decisions and some new characters are also introduced that educate the Sommers family that they aren’t so different from their Englischer neighbors after all.
For someone not used to the ways of the Amish, there is much to learn from reading Along Wooded Paths. Although the bishops and elders of Marianna’s community in Indiana would have frowned on her relationships with those outside of her faith, it seems that the Amish of West Kootenai are more relaxed in their dealings with those that worship differently.
The love triangle of Aaron, Mari, and Ben – while interesting and realistic – isn’t all that different from other love triangles of those outside the Amish faith. Mari is young and when she is with Aaron she is convinced he is the one God has meant for her, but when she is with Ben she also wonders if he could be the one God intended for her, despite some of their glaring differences.
Marianna is such a genuinely likable character that she seems like she would make a great friend. She wants to do what is right and does her best to seek GOD’s will, but she still makes mistakes and lets her thoughts carry her into forbidden territory at times. Is any other Christian struggling to live in a fallen world any different?
Ben is also a likable character and is one of the ‘good guys;’ one of those gentlemen that will help others at any time, day or night. Rarely putting himself first, he still struggles with his past and the life he had as a successful performing recording artist. He wavers between staying in West Kootenai and returning to the glamour of the stage.
Aaron is a bigger part of this book than in Beside Still Waters, in that he is in West Kootenai instead of Indiana. He seems to be the perfect gentleman, but his seemingly tender gestures seem a bit possessive at times. Each reader will have to determine for themselves if Aaron is genuine in his concern and love for Marianna.
Unfortunately, the love triangle between these three isn’t resolved by the end of Along Wooded Paths. Author Tricia Goyer has written an ending that will ensure readers will be back for the next title in this series to find out how it all turns out.
Along Wooded Paths is available online from B & H Books, Amazon, and Biblio. It may also be purchased at neighborhood Christian retailers like these in northern California.
Jireh’s Christian Books, LLC, 4340 Golden Center Dr Ste A, Placerville, CA 95667-6280
Serendipity Bible House, 760 Madison St, Fairfield, CA 94533-5730
Harvest Bookstore, 1239 Noriega St, San Francisco, CA 94122-4407