Local Opinion Editorials

THE RETURN – A Book Nook Review

The Return: Northkill Amish (Book Two)
By J. M. Hochstetler and Bob Hostetler
Sheaf House Publishers
PB, 230 pages

Beginning where the first book left off, this historical novel follows the lives of Jakob Hochstetler and his two sons, Joseph and Christian. Having been captured by local Indian tribes and now separated from his sons, Jakob struggles with plans of escape while longing to learn what happened to his boys. Joseph and Christian are each forced to grapple with their religious faith in the midst of the Indian’s religion and their new homes among their captors.

Nicely paced and engaging, this book draws together historical elements, cultural differences, and internal human struggles. The Return puts the reader into the shoes of the characters, showcasing how difficult the decisions are that the Hochstetlers have to make. It guides the readers through their own beliefs by exploring the minds and emotions of each of these fictional characters. This book continues to deliver well written descriptions and dialogue that make the setting and times come alive in the mind of the reader.

The Return masterfully paints a picture of the life of Jakob Hochstetler and his family, with the bulk of the book spanning nine years. It forces readers to examine feelings related to racism and cultural differences, as well as human love, forgiveness and self-sacrifice. Competently bringing together the genres of historical, Christian, and Amish fiction, The Return is a sequel worth reading.

This book forces readers to grapple with the morality of hard decisions that do not have simple yes or no answers. It looks at issues from varied perspectives, showing the reader multiple interpretations of individual dilemmas. This book also highlights the idea that God has a plan in the end; no matter what happens, He can be trusted.

Suggested audience is ages 13 and up because this book tends to dwell on internal struggles and not as much on external action. However, it would be entirely possible for a younger reader to learn from and enjoy this book in regard to American history and theological ponderings.

Reviewed by Theresa M. Hughes, a professional writing major at Taylor University.