BOOK REVIEW: The Newcomer by Suzanne Woods Fisher

In 1737, Anna Konig and her fellow church members stagger off a small wooden ship after ten weeks at sea, eager to start a new life in the vibrant but raw Pennsylvania frontier. On the docks of Port Philadelphia waits bishop Jacob Bauer, founder of the settlement and father to ship carpenter Bairn. It's a time of new beginnings for the reunited Bauer family, and for Anna and Bairn's shipboard romance to blossom.
But this perfect moment cannot last. As Bairn grasps the reality of what it means to be Amish in the New World--isolated, rigid with expectations, under the thumb of his domineering father--his enthusiasm evaporates. When a sea captain offers the chance to cross the ocean one more time, Bairn grabs it. Just one more crossing, he promises Anna. But will she wait for him?
When Henrik Newman joins the church just as it makes its way to the frontier, Anna is torn. He seems to be everything Bairn is not--bold, devoted, and delighted to vie for her heart. And the most dramatic difference? He is here; Bairn is not.
Far from the frontier, an unexpected turn of events weaves together the lives of Bairn, Anna, and Henrik. When a secret is revealed, which true love will emerge?

'The Newcomer' starts right where 'Anna's Crossing' left off.  Anna and the rest of her community are waiting to be cleared to leave the ship, Jacob has met them at the dock with promises of the land he has chosen.  Not all are as certain of his choice to be so far from the trade routes and civilization but he's been there a year and believes it's the best opportunity for them.  Bairn comes across an opportunity for one last trip, one last sail, and money that he thinks is desperately needed to secure a hopeful future.  Anna is torn by his decision but accepts it with the promise that he would return in the spring with her Grandparents.  Before he leaves, Bairn finds another traveler who is looking for like minded Christians who wish to separate from society and follow God's will.  Bairn brought the New Comer back to the rest of the group and hence, we have a book.

I wasn't very fond of this New Comer, Henrik, from near the beginning.  I didn't appreciate his take-over attitude.  He wasn't take charge as in find his spot in the leadership but more a my way is better.  This story is set within 3 different environments that meshed together well and the story seamlessly integrated between the different story lines.  Jacob and Dorothea left before their church, mostly so Jacob could attempt to hid how unwell he had become.  Henrik capitalized on this absence to attempt to insert his way into a leadership position.  Even going so far as to take advantage of Anna to make it happen.   Felix found a way to stow himself away on the ship with his brother.  There was an entire story within a story there by the way.  Bairn had difficult choices to make and a reckoning to deal with.  However, Felix's penchant for mischief brought that to a satisfying conclusion.  By the end all were back where they needed to be and ready to step into the next direction on their New World adventure.

Fisher, again, does an amazing job of placing you in the moment with these characters.  I felt Anna's uneasiness with Bairn leaving 'one last time'.  I felt her panic when Felix could not be found.  I felt Christian's uneasiness at trying to lead their group in the absence of the bishop and trying to find ways to move forward in a way that suited everyone.  I even found myself in Maria with her overwhelming fear.  I felt Dorothea's strength as she met new people and attempted to nurse her husband back to life.  I appreciate what they have given up to get where they are and I am desperate to finish this journey with them all.

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The Newcomer (Amish Beginnings #2)

About Suzanne Woods Fisher
Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling, award winning author of fiction and non-fiction books about the Old Order Amish for Revell Books, host of the radio-show-turned-blog Amish Wisdom, a columnist for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazine.
Her interest in the Amish began with her grandfather, who was raised Plain. A theme in her books (her life!) is that you don’t have to “go Amish” to incorporate the principles of simple living.
Suzanne lives in California with her family and raises puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. To her way of thinking, you just can't life too seriously when a puppy is tearing through your house with someone's underwear in its mouth.

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