Having read only one other book by Beverly Lewis, I was happy to have the chance to review The Tinderbox from Bethany House. At the center of the story is the Miller family and a secret that could tear apart their lives. "As the long-kept secret emerges into the light of day, can the Millers find a way forward through the turmoil to a place of forgiveness?"
I must admit that I walk into the reading of any book about the Amish with wariness but also respect. I do not completely agree with the choices that the Amish make in regards to Christianity and I think that is part of the reason why, as much as I enjoyed reading the The Tinderbox, I had trouble with some of the events. The secret that Earnest Miller was hiding from his wife, family, and the rest of the Amish in his community brings about discipline from the church leadership. When Earnest seeks forgiveness from his Deacon, I am reminded that we only need seek forgiveness from God. The rules of the Amish and their interpretation of the Bible stir my heart.
The writing of Beverly Lewis is one that puts the reader at ease. I found The Tinderbox to be an easy read – before I knew it I had finished another chapter. I think any young woman would be able to read The Tinderbox and find something to speak to her. Whether one receives encouragement from the strength of Rhoda Miller (Earnest's wife) or the quiet introspection of Sylvia as she plans a future with her love, there are both men and women with whom readers might be able to identify.
In The Tinderbox, we are introduced to the Miller Family – Earnest and Rhoda and their children: Sylvia, Tommy, Ernie, Calvin, and Adam. The story focuses upon the lives of both the parents and their daughter along with several other key individuals who help bring the entire plot to life. Earnest was not born Amish but chose to join the life when he was seeking something. He learned the trade of clock-making and eventually took over the business of Isaac Smucker. Earnest was baptized into the Amish church and married Rhoda. They lived a rewarding life until the tinderbox in his clock-making office was opened and his past was found out by Sylvia. This would set in motion the events of the majority of the book.
There are wonderful scenes depicted throughout the book of the quaint lifestyle of the Amish – from the courting relationship of Sylvia and Titus as they go double dating and get ice cream to the jam-making session of the girls. I think these snapshots into the lives of the Millers and the Amish are what appeal to so many. There is also a look into the life of Rhoda's sister, Hannah, and her suffering due to a miscarriage. And finally, throughout the story, we see a community mourning the death of their leader – Mahlon Zook – who was so integral to the lives of not only the entire community but particularly Earnest.
If you are already a fan of Beverly Lewis, I would recommend picking up The Tinderbox. If you enjoy reading fictional stories about the Amish, this book might also be of interest to you. I found it to be an easy read and one that I finished rather quickly (which for me is a sign that I am enjoying the book). There is also quite a shock at the end of the book – so keep reading to see what happens – and see why there is a sequel arriving in September 2019.
Looking for more book reviews about works from Bethany House?
I have enjoyed reviewing several books from Bethany House including Far Side of the Sea and another book by Beverly Lewis – The Road Home.