Title: Banished: An Amish Romance
Publisher: Good Books
Copyright: May 4, 2021
Format: E-Book, 336 Pages
Genres: Historical Fiction, Religious Fiction, Christian Historical Fiction, Amish Fiction
The first book in The Long Road Home trilogy, a unique and gripping Amish romance set in the South at the turn of the century.
It was the early 1900s when Obadiah (Oba) and Merriweather’s (May’s) parents died tragically, leaving them orphans at ten and eleven years old. When none of their nearby relations volunteer to take them in, they are set on a train to Arkansas to go live on their Amish aunt and uncle’s cotton farm. Once there, it didn’t take long to discover they would be treated cruelly, no matter what they did. May, always anxious to be a godly young lady, took on more and more responsibility, trying desperately to keep the peace and convince her older brother not to run away. But when they became teenagers and Oba received one especially cruel beating, he disappeared, leaving May to shoulder even more responsibility while navigating the dangerous and lonely world she’d been placed in.
When she encounters Clinton, a young black man, on the road one day, she sees a kindness in his eyes that she’s been thirsting for. He is immediately drawn to her, too, but quickly reminds her that he is black and she is white. In that time and place, there is no chance of starting a friendship. But still, they find themselves meeting discretely, spending more time together than is proper, finding joy and solace in each other’s company.
When things go from bad to unbearable at the farm, May realizes she must escape from her aunt and uncle. If only she knew where Oba had gone! Can she turn to Clinton for help? Where is God when she needs Him most?
Banished, the first installment in “The Long Road Home” trilogy, is set in the early twentieth century. Life for orphans, Obadiah “Oba” and Merriweather “May” Miller, is anything but easy. After losing their parents, they are sent to Arkansas to live with distant relations, Uncle Melvin and Aunt Gertrude “Gertie” Amstutz, on their cotton farm. From the moment Oba and May arrive, they realize just how cruel Melvin and Gertie really are. They are expected to work constantly. Oba works outside with the other men and boys. May cleans the house, cooks, and looks after the garden while Gertie does nothing all day. When faced with all this abuse, Oba starts to rebel and eventually runs away, leaving May to the mercy of her oppressors. Not long after that, May meets a young African American man named Clinton and a connection forms between them. He shows her a kindness she has not seen in a long time. They form a friendship despite the horrid racism that is so prevalent in the south. With time, May’s situation only worsens and she seeks to escape the Amstutz’s farm just like Oba did. She seeks Clinton’s help to find a way out.
Banished was written by Linda Byler who is a practicing member of the Amish Church. This was my first time reading a book by Ms. Byler and I was very happy that I did. “Banished” is a quintessential story about the struggles of good people in the face of inhumanity. If anything, the tone of this story reminded me of a Charles Dickens novel, gritty and sometimes even dark. The characterization was very impressive. I particularly adored May, Clinton, and Oba who came across as such strong and admirable characters. As much as these characters were great, I found the Amstutz family to be abominable. The pace of the story was steady and the plot was fairly solid. Overall, I really liked this book and would definitely read Ms. Byler’s other writings in the future.
I graciously received this complimentary copy of Banished by Skyhorse Publishing and Netgalley. All ideas and thoughts expressed herein are my own.