Thursday, March 10, 2011
The Caregiver by Shelley Shepard Gray
"The Caregiver" by Shelley Shepard Gray touches on a subject that I have rarely read about in the amish stories that I read, and that is domestic violence among the Amish. In this story we have the protagonist Lucy, who married a man that the Amish community thought well of.Soon after marrying Paul, he becomes verbally and physically abusive towards her. While many of the people in her community knew what was going on they did nothing. Lucy figures that she is destined to live the rest of her life with abuse,something that she blamed herself for. The only place that she could pour out her emotions were in the pages of her journal, so when an accident claims the life of her husband, she finds herself writing that she is actually relieved that he is dead.
When her friend Mattie is diagnosed with breast cancer, Lucy decides she will head to Jacob's Crossing near Cleveland to help take care of her. Traveling alone by train she meets Calvin Miller and his precocious sister Katie, the only other Amish people on the train. When the train breaks down outside Toledo, the trio spends the day together,and while Lucy wants to believe that Calvin is nothing like Paul, she is afraid to trust.
Calvin is carrying the hurt of betrayal of his former girlfriend Gwen and his friend Will. But when he finally gets home to Jacob's Crossing he can't quit thinking about Lucy. Will Lucy's past keep her from realizing what a great guy Calvin is, or will they be able to work beyond their past hurts to claim a future together?
I really enjoyed reading this story, I felt like the author accurately portrayed the feelings that Lucy would have probably experienced as a person living with domestic violence. My heart broke for her on several occasions, especially when she longed to be the girl she was before the abuse began. I felt like Lucy's role as caregiver started long before she started helping to take care of Mattie. She was a daughter that married, so that it would ease the burden of her parents overcrowded house. When she found herself in an abusive marriage she then took the blame on herself, but always tried to anticipate the needs and wants of her husband. I was so glad when she found him dead, although had I been the author I would have probably had him ran over by a car or stomped by a bull, instead of simply falling off of a ladder.
The author introduces to several secondary characters that have interesting stories of their own, which makes me anxious to read the next book in the Families of Honor series. While this book will definitely appeal to readers of Amish fiction, I think it would hold appeal to anyone who enjoys a well written inspirational story that weaves together the elements of faith, love and learning to trust again.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me an e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.