A Love Undone
By Cindy Woodsmall
Published by Waterbrook
328 Pages

ABOUT BOOK: A husband and son abandoned to forge a path alone.
A young woman who sacrificed her dreams.
How will the God of grace and hope help them find their way?

At nineteen years old, Old Order Amish Jolene Keim was on the brink of happily-ever-after when everything changed, stealing the future she expected and burdening her with an unbearable decision. For the next ten years, Jolene throws herself into family life—and then she meets Andy Fisher. The horse trainer and father to a sweet nine year-old challenges her and holds up a mirror to issues Jolene has been unwilling to face.

Andy is cautious about his deepening friendship with Jolene, but he believes she knows the truth about him – that he is a grass widower. As a man whose wife has abandoned him six years past, he is unable to divorce or remarry according to the Amish ways. Andy has wrestled with God concerning his reality, and he had found peace with the solitary future facing him…until he met Jolene.

As Andy and Jolene find themselves confronted by difficult choices, will they trust in God's guidance—or will the allure of their deepening friendship only lead to further temptation?
Great Fun to catch up with Cindy in Atlanta this summer
REVIEW: I’m thankful for the review copy of a book that reinforces the reason I read Christian Fiction. It also reminds me of this author’s first novel When the Heart Cries. It was a captivating heart-wrenching story and amazing series - I highly recommend. I loved how this author's emphasis was on God’s grace and love in the circumstances of the main character in When the Heart Cries and those around her. I see all that in this book as well along with other themes naturally running through we all can relate to: disappointment, unforgiveness, loss, redemption, pain, love, patience and a peace that passes all understanding; a gift given to us by God.

The reader first meets Jolene, a young lady in love, filled with hopes and dreams. She’s a woman forced to make a tough choice between what she wants and what is best for her family. She never second guesses herself or regrets her choice. She is willing to do whatever it takes to keep her family intact. Jolene does an amazing job of navigating the demands life has thrust upon her. Family is important, she works hard to keep life moving along for her siblings; hiding her feelings; and grief over what happened in her life. She has a heart of gold.

“She realized how little of herself she shared with loved ones. She’d closed up when the need to be a pillar of strength became nonstop….She no long had anyone she could open up to. Her siblings knew her love and faithfulness to them and to God, but she had to keep parts of herself locked away like her artwork.” (I liked reading about her art outlet)

I had taken this book with me on a retreat and was amazed that the themes of the weekend matched up with what I was reading in the pages of this novel. I was learning about how God could reclaim my numb heart and heal the hurts so I could feel free inside again. I saw Jolene and Andy walking this process out right before me. I saw how they allowed God to do a great healing in their hearts. Both were willing to be willing to do His will and have Him heal pain deep within producing a contentment they didn’t know was possible. Life isn’t fair – but God is there to pick up the pieces of our shattered hearts and make them into something beautiful. The end result often times is not at all what we expected or longed for. Sticking close to God can heal our hurts. He can speak life into the dead places if we let Him.

I know this is fiction but I connected with Jolene in a real way. I was emotionally spent over the tradgies and trials she went through in the confines of the Amish rules and ways. At the same time I was encouraged and inspired by this young lady. Jolene realized she had to, “Live life based on what you know to be true, not on what others think is true of you!” Amen!

Andy is a man who’s caught between a rock and a hard place. He’s stuck, not free to move on in life even if he wanted to. He’s an honorable man who is willing to do what must be done in order to protect his loved ones, regardless of the cost to himself. He stays true - respecting the Amish ways to remain with his family and part of his Amish order district. Andy is patient and caring for people and animals which is so obvious with the way he trains horses and deals with those around Him. He’s very insightful and funny.

Andy has agreed to help the Humane Society handle a herd of horses that have been mistreated. Andy seeks the help of a relative from another Amish district to accomplish the task. Jolene and Andy meet when Jolene volunteers to help with the horses, sparks fly and not at a good way at first. Andy doesn’t want Jolene to help him. It’s not woman’s work. She can get hurt. Jolene knows this job needs to be done soon. There are no men to help. She was a quick learner and was determined to help these animals. I loved learning about horses and how the trainers help calm them down and gain their trust.

Andy says to Jolene, “Has anyone told you that you’re a little annoying?” He couldn’t keep from smiling as he teased her. There was no way of knowing what she’d say to him.”

“Nope. (She replied) Not one person has used the word little with the phrase you’re annoying.”

I gave you a peek into this authors well timed humor. Andy realizes he needs her help to accomplish what he promised so he lets Jolene help. Andy is cautious about a deepening friendship with Jolene – He believes she knows the truth about his situation. Soon they both realize they can’t work together that’s when things get complicated.

There was one thing he wanted to give Jolene. “If Andy could, he would leave at the end of summer having given Jolene the gift of freedom; to wade in creeks, own a phone, and hold a conversation with Van without wanting to flee.” (Freedom the very thing God wants to give us)

The smaller stories lines woven into the bigger plot added a depth and richness to the overall story and made me feel part of their family. I liked Ray’s story; a boy who was struck by lightning and lived to tell about it. My heart went out to him in his struggles with life, and his anxieties. Finding his place in the community and dealing with his emotions was hard.

A friend says to him, “Maybe your definition of revenge is all wrong, Ray. There’s a saying I agree with – “The best revenge is massive success.” – To me, success is not ruining something at work……Maybe If we did something we liked, we’d actually be good at it.”

I was captivated and loved the many plot twists and turns. I liked how this author focused on relationships in reference to God, family and romance,  I liked how Cindy Woodsmall talked about what real love is and what it isn't about - like rushing into fulfilling a longing in our heart or letting our life be run by our emotions. The patience and love Jolene and Andy had inside their hearts for one another was remarkable. They were willing to wait for God to give them the best for their family even when their family was rebellious – like Ray. They both showed an extraordinary love and patience for their Amish community and friends around them as well.

This author has 12 discussion questions in the back of the book to help create lively discussion for your meeting. This is a special book I highly recommend to book clubs. This story could have gone several different ways. Many of which would have my heart sick at the end. Cindy has a satisfying ending that brought a peace to my heart and a smile on my face. This book is a keeper.

Nora St Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins
The Book Club Network Blog
Book Fun Magazine


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