Monday, May 21, 2012Posted by Amber S. at 12:00 AM
"Lydia Bontrager's youngest sister is frighteningly ill, and as a good Amish daughter, it falls to Lydia to care for her siblings and keep the household running, in addition to working as a teacher's assistant and helping part time at her grandmother's bakery. Succumbing to stress, Lydia gives in to one wild night and returns home drunk.
The secret of that mistake leaves Lydia feeling even more restless and confused, especially when Joshua, the only boy she's ever loved, becomes increasingly distant. When a non-Amish boy moves in nearby, Lydia finds someone who understands her, but the community is convinced Lydia is becoming too reckless. With the pressures at home and her sister's worsening condition, a splintering relationship with Joshua, and her own growing questions over what is right, Lydia could lose everything that she's ever held close."
Lydia's life - as she once knew it - is falling apart. It starts with a poor choice one lonely night at a youth gathering. Then horrible news crashes down on her family, and Lydia finds herself trying to juggle work with worries about her sister, her reputation, and her future. She yearns for the "normal" life she once had - but is that what she truly needs?
Reckless Heart is a book with plenty of conflict - from illness to forbidden friendship, misunderstandings, and unrequited love. With lots of trouble to deal with, the characters don't always come across as very likeable, but they're still an interesting mix. (Lydia's siblings are precious!) The resolution is a bit fast and "tidy" in some respects, and I would have liked to see a certain romantic relationship given more attention throughout the story rather than having the explanation for its existence brushed off in the end. But the plot and relationships are intriguing and complex in a "curious-to-find-out-what-happens" way.
I appreciate the glossary (as well as the family-tree charts) at the beginning of the book, but I think the Amish phrases/wording might be a bit overdone at times (especially for a Young Adult book, where the repetition and possible need to constantly flip back to the front for definitions can be a bit tedious). And while I appreciate this story from Lydia's perspective, I think there might have been an added benefit to getting more viewpoints from other characters (including some of the adults). Overall, though, Reckless Heart emphasizes caring and community in an interesting Amish-themed, teen story of the heart.
*With thanks to Candice Frederick with DJC Communications and the publisher for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.*
A Note from the Author:
"Reckless Heart gave me the opportunity to create a story about Lydia Bontrager, who is one of the granddaughters in my Kauffman Amish Bakery series. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to write a young adult book based on my Kauffman novels.
This story is close to my heart because it's dedicated to Jimmy O'Brien, a dear family friend who lost his life to leukemia at the age of ten."
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