I accepted this review from Bethany House publishers with the thought that I already understood what forgiveness and grace look like.
Boy; was I wrong.
Please indulge me a moment as I try to explain why this book was difficult for me to read and to complete. I have no idea how others view forgiveness, and as I consider myself a spiritual person, rather than religious, I don’t often spend time reflecting on others beliefs. Forgiveness, for me, has always been a thing of the future, and I’ve subscribed to the idea that time heals all wounds. I mean, how can you forgive someone a transgression in the heat of the moment? However, upon reading this book, and delving into my own thoughts and feelings on the subject, I know feel that the importance of forgiveness and grace are actions, thoughts, words, feelings, and intentions of the present and not of the future. Waiting for the future to heal a wound and provide forgiveness seems a silly occupation and overly demanding of one’s time. Forgiveness is not a product of remorse, but a product of one’s own healing.
With that being said, here’s my review.
I do not want to get into the specifics of the actual shooting at a one-room Amish schoolhouse, the death and injury to ten young girls and the shooter taking his own life and the unfolding tragedy as the book glosses over much of this and because the subject matter of this book is the forgiveness extended to the shooters family. Be warned, this book does not answer the question of why, because as the author states, how does one ever truly know the reasons. The author alludes to the content of one of the suicide notes that was left, but without proof every having been obtained, the why wasn’t answered. I can imagine that a family would want to know what causes a son/brother/father to act in such a way but as is the case, human rationale is a thing to be questioned during times like these. The true content of this book is the forgiveness extended, almost immediately, to the shooters family by the Amish community. The Amish community comforted the family within mere hours of the shooting happening and even went so far as to fundraise for them. What struck me as odd, was the author’s perception of why the Amish forgave so readily, and her almost cavalier acceptance. While she does go on to try to reciprocate, which reciprocation of forgiveness is acceptance, it’s almost as if it’s begrudgingly. This may be expected given the circumstances. How does one accept forgiveness when your son has taken innocent lives? I think that as time goes on the author is able to accept, and then works extremely hard to give something back to those who have so readily forgiven through the use of tea days for the young girls, and general conversations with the Amish to better understand their culture.
If you are interested in the subject of forgiveness and acceptance, then this book will be a winner for you. It’s well written, although there are a few sections that are a bit on the side of being rambling. It’s as if the author has to keep reintroducing us to main characters on several occasions, but this isn’t overly detracting to the overall story line. I’d recommend reading this with an open mind, and without an expectation of answers to the pressing questions of “Why?”.