Beckstrand (Huckleberry Hearts) opens a series in her Wisconsin Amish setting with a “wonderful-gute” novel that celebrates women’s resourceful strength and pluck, rewarding the good-hearted who keep close to the spirit (if not the letter) of traditional values over those who are concerned with maintaining appearances but fail at human connection. The three Christner sisters live with their protective aunt Bitzi, whose sarcastic vocal prayers and habit of wearing earrings—a holdover from her Englisch days—break all protocol. They make a modest living through the hard work of keeping bees. Dan Kanagy returns from a trip full of teasing words for his longtime crush, Lily Christner, but his kindness and enthusiasm for helping with hive chores, mousetraps, and buggy rides are in notable contrast to the behavior of her fiancé, stingy, selfish, and judgmental Paul Glick, who is mostly concerned with grooming Lily to be a modest wife. Beckstrand humorously displays the awkwardness and immaturity of her young protagonists while uplifting them, and though readers will have a good idea of where the story is going, its unfolding is delightfully sweet. As a bonus, the beekeeping details are accurate, and Beckstrand includes some tasty recipes. Agent: Mary Sue Seymour, Seymour Agency. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/23/2016 Release date: 06/28/2016 Genre: Fiction
During the Covid-19 crisis, Publishers Weekly is providing free digital access to our magazine, archive, and website. To receive the access to the latest issue delivered to your inbox free each week, enter your email below.