This is not a bonnets book, but contemporary work
When you read this book, be prepared for an unusual chronology. The prologue is a glimpse into the future, mysterious and puzzling. It does not prepare you for what's to come, but rather sets the tone for the book.
In the opening chapters we are introduced to Beth Winslow, a graduate student assigned to Dr. Thomas Fitzpatrick. To assist in the completion of her Master's degree, she has agreed to become the gestational surrogate for the doctor and his wife, Meredith. It's 1995 and soon Beth will be faced with a life changing dilemma.
At first, I found the shifting chronology to be annoying and confusing. It appeared aimless to me until some of the puzzle pieces fell into place. What kept me motivated to read was the desire to make sense of the opening story. Looking back, I can better appreciate the chronology presented since it was the timing of revealed factors that added to the suspense and urgency. I'm still not a fan of this approach, but in this story it serves to increase expectations. I just couldn't put the book down.
What genre is this book written in? I can tell you better what it is not than what it is. For example, it is not a typical romance although there is a satisfying conclusion and the presence of some romance. It is not a boy meets girl kind of story. Many of the characters are not who they claim to be. Yet this is a story that does not easily fit into the mystery, suspense, or thriller genres. There is some mystery, some suspense, but those are not the driving force. It has more character development than action, so it is not a thriller or an action and adventure book. This is not even a "bonnets" story, even though the midwife, Rhoda, is Mennonite, wears a cape dress, apron, and a prayer kapp. Being Mennonite is pretty much incidental because the central issues revolve around identity, acceptance, pain, loss, hiding, finding love, and resolution. In essence, it is a contemporary tale that deals with some hard-hitting issues at the core. The thought provoking problems seem to have come out of the author's "what if" file, assuming she has one. I don't think you can pin a particular genre to this book. As I read, the thing uppermost in my mind was a big question mark.
The segment I found most heartwarming was the friendship Rhoda found in Fanny Graber, the head midwife of Hopen Haus when Rhoda first arrived there pregnant and frightened. A special friendship developed between the elderly Mennonite and the young girl. Rhoda met the Lord because of Fanny. It was the first time she felt completely accepted, wanted and loved. Eventually, Fanny taught her to be a midwife. It was a task Rhoda adopted as her own mission--to care for the girls who came for assistance--even after Fanny had passed on.
There are parts of the book that will grip you and emotionally wring you dry. Most of the accounts are told in the first person, so that the point of view becomes personal to the reader. Toward the end, the resolution includes some twists in the plot that, in spite of a few clues, will still surprise the reader. That said, I still found more satisfaction from the second reading of the book. Once I had more of the pieces in place in my mind, it was easier for me to follow.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from NetGalley on behalf of Tyndale House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade CommissionÃ¢ÂÂs 16 CFR, Part 255: Ã¢ÂÂGuides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.Ã¢ÂÂ
July 17, 2014
What an astounding book! A profound story about life and loss and ultimately hope. A wonderful witness to the glory of God's master plan and his divine ability to heal the deepest wounds.
Petersheim has a unique writing style. Rich descriptive passages paint vivid images that add depth and vibrancy to a compelling plot. Unusual too, because the story is written in first person point of view. Pay attention to the headings and dates because The Midwife is told from different characters' viewpoints, both past and present. That took a bit of getting use to in the beginning, especially since some scenes were written in past tense and others in present tense, but once I got the hang of it, the words flowed until they built to an astonishing crescendo. Honestly, there is more than one gobsmacking surprise buried in this emotional tale.
There's also unspeakable sorrow as well. Experience has taught Rhoda to guard her heart and she has turned herself into an outcast in many ways. The broken pieces of her past mesh with the shattered ones in her present and turn into something so hopeful and good it defies description. An incredible read.
*My thanks to the publisher and Net Galley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
June 28, 2014
The characters in this story are so lifelike that you could reach out and touch them and feel their breath upon your skin.
This is a story about heartbreak and redemption told by an extraordinary storyteller. Author, Jolina Petersheim, draws you deep into the lives, both past and present, of each character.
My favorite quote is, "I love you so much; I could just squeeze the pudding out of you!" ÃÂ
I highly recommend this book. I believe fans of Julie Cantrell and Lisa Wingate will especially enjoy Jolina's writing style.
This is a novel that is staying on my bookshelf to be read again and again.
June 23, 2014
Such interesting characters & story
Several time periods, lives, and mysteries are woven together masterfully in Jolina Petersheim's second novel, "The Midwife." ÃÂ This beautifully complex story bounces back and forth between 1996 and present day as we learn about Beth Winslow's deep heartache that stems from her mothers' abandonment. A graduate student hoping to pursue a PhD in bioethics, she agrees to be a surrogate for her professor-and so begins a long and winding path she never expected to take.
I could say so much more about the story and its characters but hesitate to even accidentally give anything away. Please, run to your bookstore or favorite ebook app and get this book (along with "The Outcast", please) right away!
June 22, 2014