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Review: Mending Fences by Suzanne Woods Fisher

After his third stint in rehab, Luke Schrock went home but no one seemed to want him. Yes, the Amish forgave him; they are required to. But that doesn’t mean they trusted him; almost everyone watched him suspiciously, remembering his devastating pranks. Handsome, charming Luke had always found it easy to win people’s trust, but no longer. So why was he there?

The rehab counsellor had suggested that since he didn’t seem to be able to move forward, he should perhaps go back and find out why. And bishop David Stoltzfus, the one man who had not given up on him, told him, “It’s going to take work to build a good reputation.”

What kind of work? Well, there were those twelve steps Luke had memorized in rehab, and David expanded on them. He had to make a list of all the people he had harmed over the years and apologize. As if that were not enough, he had to ask each person how his behavior had affected him or her. When Luke wrote the list it had only three people; David’s list was thick, page after page of stinging memories.

And, as Luke well knew from past conversations,

David called those stinging memories one of the greatest gifts given by the Holy Spirit. Convicting memories, David called them. Conviction was meant to turn us to confession. And confession brought us back to God.

All that didn’t take away from the fact that he ended up staying with Amos and Fern Lapp (whose mailbox he had cherry bombed not too long ago), a kind old couple who took in strays, and who had space for him only in the tack room of the barn. In the house lived another stray, Izzy, gorgeous Izzy whom he recognized from his first time in rehab. But Izzy was completely uninterested in Luke, no matter what he did. That was another shock to Luke; pretty girls were always interested in him. Always.

Mending Fences is the story of Luke’s list, how he apologized, realized the sometimes horrific consequences of his actions, and tried to make amends. It is the story of Izzy and her search for her mother. It is also, in a quiet way, the story of Luke and Izzy. Ultimately, it is a story of repentance, a story of the damage done by those who have not repented yet (and good Amish, like God, keep giving people chances), and a story of how repentance and faith are intertwined.

When Miss 16 asked me to review this book, I expected a light, summery tale. Instead, I got an intense novel of repentance, forgiveness, and growing faith. These are things we all need to learn more about.

Thanks to Suzanne Woods Fisher for yet again making the Word of God practical in an unforgettable way. Yes, the story is intense; it is also sentimental; and it ends happily, because with God happy endings are possible. And so Mending Fences displays the hope of the gospel, as opposed to the angst and hopelessness of our modern culture.

As David said when Luke thanked him for not giving up on him,

All thanks belongs to God. It really does, Luke. It all starts and ends with God. He’s the one who doesn’t give up.

And, when Izzy asked in desperation where God was when the utterly horrible things happened to her—if he really always watched over her—then David, who had known great tragedy, was able to testify with conviction that,

God brings good out of everything for those who love him. Everything can be redeemed….

Although Mending Fences has a very strong theme, Suzanne Woods Fisher has made it into a gripping story as well, with believable characters and a beautiful setting. I recommend this unusual book to all.

Related resources:

Resolving Conflict by Lou Priolo covers some of the same topics. I expect to write a review of this excellent book soon.

A surprising number of children and teens are being sucked into screen-based addiction, involving brain chemistry changes just like  other addictions do. For more about this, read my article “Screens and our Kids’ Mental Health, with Tips for Parents.”

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Disclosure: This book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. and is available at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

This may be linked to Saturday Reviews, Booknificent Thursdays, 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge, Literacy Musings Monday, and The Book Nook  as well as to Inspire Me Monday, Raising Homemakers, Friendship Friday, Make My Saturday Sweet.

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