An Amish Cradle: Four Novellas
by Beth Wiseman, Amy Clipston, Kathleen Fuller, and Vannetta Chapman
Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2015
"An Amish Cradle" features four novellas from some of the most well-known writers of Amish fiction. The unifying topic is the coming of a baby (and in one case, babies).
Amy Clipston writes "A Son for Always" which tells of Carolyn Glick. Glick gave birth to Benjamin as an unwed teenager and has always felt she needed to provide for him. Now in her thirties and married to Joshua Glick, she is expecting again. Joshua has always been good to both her and her son, but Carolyn still isn't willing to let go of working outside of the home out of fear that Benjamin won't be able to establish himself in life without her help. Can Carolyn let go and trust her husband?
"A Heart Full of Love" by Kathleen Fuller centers on Ellie Miller, married to Christopher. Ellie is a blind woman, about to give birth to twins. Her mother, Edna, is terrified that Ellie will unintentionally harm one of the babies, and steps in to make sure that doesn't happen. As well-intentioned as she may be, Edna leaves Ellie feeling totally inadequate and deprived of her babies. Meanwhile, Christopher has to leave for several weeks for work. This story offers an interesting dynamic between a woman, her mother, and her husband.
Vannetta Chapman shares "An Unexpected Blessing." Etta Bontrager and her husband Mose are in their early forties with a child on the way, a child who will be younger than their first grandchild! She has had six other children, one of which is out in the world, lost to the community. Her last pregnancy, several years earlier, died prematurely at birth. Meanwhile, their farm is in trouble due to a failed crop. Etta and Mose will be forced to trust in a God full of surprises.
The story I wish to focus most on is the first, "In His Father's Arms" by Beth Wiseman. While all four of these novellas are very pro-life, this particular story is especially so. Ruth Anne and Levi are a very young married couple, only in their late teens. They are excited about the birth of their first son, Joshua, but the fact that he has Down Syndrome complicates things. Levi had a cousin with the same syndrome who died young and he is scared to bond with his son and then lose him. These leaves Ruth Anne feeling all alone to cope with the doctor's appointments and the usual stress of having a new newborn. In a world in which far too many babies are aborted because of Down Syndrome, these novella offers an honest and very positive story about a young family trying to cope.
"An Amish Cradle" is a delight. The stories are long enough to allow for full character development and enjoyable plot lines, while being short enough for busy readers to complete and enjoy.