I find myself struggling to start this review. Because the book was just so unbelievable, I find myself at a lack of words.
What would it be like to watch the end of the world as a bystander? As someone who has always thought that living that way was not wise, but had to hold onto that opinion as nobody really cared for it?
I should start with the fact that this is a dystopian book. However, it’s not your typical dystopian book. You will not find zombies or adventure here. Nor will you find fast-paced action and gore. You might find some terror, but it won’t be the scary kind. It will be the sad, regretful kind.
Jacob is Amish. He has worked the land as long as he’s been alive. He’s lived a simple life, and he’s happy living this way. Jacob’s daughter, Sadie, seems to have a sickness, most likely epilepsy, but it seems to be something more. Something more otherworldly, more like a gift. Sadie seems to know what will happen. And what will happen will bring an end to the world of the English – for Jacob’s community, the English means the outside world, the Western way of life. The scathing way of life. The kind that separates everyone from each other, and man from land. The kind of life Jacob does not understand.
And then one day it happens. Something of a natural disaster, magnetic or solar storm – it’s never explained, as we’re seeing it through Jacob’s eyes, and he doesn’t know these things. Whatever happens, cuts out all power sources of The English, and ends their way of life. Society begins of unravel, animosity does more harm than nature. Meanwhile, Jacob’s life hasn’t changed – the sun still shines, the rain still falls, so he tends to his crops and does his daily work as usual. But he can’t help wondering what will happen to the rest of the world. And he can’t help noticing the signs on danger all around him. The men that run around the fields with guns in the night. The army trucks that come to requisition food and other supplies. The rumors of slaughtered households. Jacob’s community seems to be the only people holding it together in a world that has changed irreparably overnight, and he’s at a loss about what to do. The Amish way is one of peace, of never hurting anyone. And so, Jacob and everyone in his community is faced with the choice – do they hide behind the Western man and pretend that it’s not the same that it wasn’t their hand that pulled the trigger? Or is the true way of peace about accepting the consequences, turning the other cheek and choosing the way of least violence?
It’s a truly heart-breaking tale of strength in the face of tragedy. Of faith, or just belief, or just being human the way humanity should be. It’s heart-wrenching and it’s utterly beautiful. This is a book you should read, if you enjoy musings on tough choices, morality and spirituality. I enjoyed this book unbelievably and I cried by the end. I must warn, it is not a fast-paced book, like I said. It’s not about action or movement. It’s about the geography of the human heart. If you enjoy books like that, you will greatly enjoy this one. And even though the voice is that of a Christian, especially an Amish Christian, you will not find it difficult to connect with Jacob’s feelings or beliefs. They’re so inherently human, that I believe we could all find them inside our hearts.
If this is not enough to convey how much I loved it, I’ll say one more thing. I do not really re-read books. But I can say for sure I will be re-reading this one, after I’ve had sufficient time to let the details go. I want to experience this book again. It was wonderful.
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I thank David Williams, Algonquin Books and NetGalley for providing this book in exchange to an honest review.
Have you read any good apocalyptic stories about non-traditional communities?