cover image A Horse for Elsie

A Horse for Elsie

Linda Byler. Good Books, $14.99 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-1-68099-383-7

Amish author Byler (The Homestead) follows the simple dreams and delicate romance of an insecure girl coming of age in a contemporary Amish community. Eleven-year-old Elsie Esh desperately wants a pony, but her family struggles financially after her father is injured in a car crash. She feels ashamed around much richer classmates, including confident Elam Stoltzfus, who owns a Shetland pony. At 15, Elsie still dreams of owning a horse and calculates which of the few jobs open to a young Amish woman would pay the most. She quickly proves her work ethic at a demanding bakery while rejecting all offers from would-be suitors. When Elam takes her to see a badly neglected horse for sale, Elsie assumes he pities her. Only after Elam nurses the horse back to health do Elsie’s pride and hurt begin to recede. Byler nicely balances Elsie’s tentative feelings for Elam with her other adolescent concerns and her family’s precarious situation, and the light Christmas theme is a nice touch. This tender tale with modest and honest stakes will charm readers of chaste, cozy romances. (Nov.)