BOOK REVIEW A Stranger's Gift by Anna Schmidt

1/17/2012

Hester Detweiler lived in Pinecraft, an Amish and Mennonite community in Sarasota, Florida. Her father, Arlen, was the pastor of a Mennonite church in town. She had cared for her mother five years before she passed away. She was different than a lot of Mennonite woman. She went to nursing school. She was over thirty and not married. She was headstrong and even a little bossy when things needed to get done.

Hester was the lead volunteer for MCC, the Mennonite Central Committee. The MCC helped with disaster relief, community development, and international aid. The MCC's latest project was in Hester's hometown. The area was under a hurricane watch, a hurricane named Hester was brewing along the Gulf Coast.

Hester had many things to get done for the MCC in case the hurricane hit, but her boss sent her to John Steiner's house to take him to a shelter. John was getting special treatment because of his aunt's political postion and Hester was annoyed. John lived alone. He was trying to live totally self sufficient like in Henry David Thoreau's book, Walden: Life in the Woods. The moment John and Hester met they got on each others nerves.. Hester wanted to help John, but he wanted solidarity. Hester's felt her calling in life was to help people. John's goal in life was to be alone.

Even after the hurricane hit and destroyed most of his property, John refused help. Slowly, John's attitude changed after Samuel Brubaker left his camper for him to stay in. Samuel came to Pinecraft because Hester's father was hoping Hester would marry him. He worked with Arlen in his wood shop.

This story is about a community coming together to help family, friends, and neighbors recover from a devastating storm. Everyone involved seemed to be changed after the hurricane. Hester, John and Samuel discovered what they truly wanted to do with their lives.

I think anyone who knows the Sarasota area of Florida would enjoy this book because of they way it is described throughout the story. Having not read any stories about the Mennonites, I wasn't sure if I would like this book. I can tell you that I was pleasantly surprised. I think A Stranger's Gift was very enjoyable to read. I liked all the characters. Hester was struggling to be the person God wanted her to be.  John was running away from who he was. This book is about finding love when it's not expected and trusting God to work out our lives.

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley for my honest review.

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