- Monday, September 09, 2002
The Covenant, author Beverly Lewis’ first book in a series called “Abram’s Daughters,” chronicles the life of an "old order" Amish family in
It presents impressive details of Amish culture and effectively weaves Amish dialect through not just the dialogue, but also the narrative. Readers can feel as though they’re temporarily part of the Ebersol family’s world. But that world can be awfully mundane at times--with days full of events not too much more exciting than visiting family and friends, doing housework, and selling vegetables to “Englishers” at a roadside stand.
Still, there are some dramatic moments in the plot, most of which concern oldest daughter Sadie Ebersol and her conflict between faith and sin. This element is developed well, but oddly enough, the most dramatic scenes in the novel (such as Sadie’s baptism in the Amish church and her surrender to premarital sex) aren’t even described. Instead, they’re only mentioned. By choosing to tell rather than show during the novel’s most critical moments, Lewis saps most of the power out of the story’s potential impact. It’s as if she’s artificially sanitizing her characters’ honest struggles for fear of offending readers, when in fact they would be much better served by seeing how the characters deal with their conflicts and ultimately turn to God.
Lewis also has a tendency to tell readers too much in the narrative rather than letting them figure out her messages from the scenes themselves. And sometimes she has the narrator say things that are quite obvious; things that any perceptive reader can know just from the action. Hopefully Lewis will employ her descriptive skills much more thoroughly in future books in the series.
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