cover image First Christmas on Huckleberry Hill

First Christmas on Huckleberry Hill

Jennifer Beckstrand. Zebra, $8.99 (353p) ISBN 978-1-4201-5205-0

Beckstrand impresses with a pleasing prequel to her Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill Amish series (following Home on Huckleberry Hill). Martha Sue Helmuth, 30 years old and determined not to marry, realizes she has been sent to Wisconsin by her parents to spend Christmas with her grandparents for the purpose of finding a husband. Though Martha tries to protest, she and her extended family from previous installments gather during Christmas dinner and listen as Mammi Anna and Dawdi Felty tell the story of how they fell in love. The narrative jumps back in time to the 1950s when Felty returned from the Korean War and was ostracized by his Amish community for his choice to serve—which goes against the vow of nonviolence central to the faith. The girl he secretly loved, Anna, was the only one willing to forgive him, but he doubted she could ever love him back. Like Felty, Anna was an outsider in the community—she couldn’t cook, sew, or clean, and was too bookish to be considered a proper Amish girl. Their friendship—which develops sweetly into love as they bond over the complexities of life and relationships, and as Anna helps Felty recover from the horrors of war—drives the wholesome tale. Beckstrand’s fans and newcomers alike will enjoy this yuletide outing. (Oct.)