Girls Who Pray by Evelyn Dar is a romance set in the Amish community. The romance comes to light in the outside world when New York Times best-selling author Claire Roberts writes and publishes a memoir that details her life as she grew up amongst the Amish and had a secret love affair with another woman. The Amish decide to sue Claire for libel, and we learn the story of their relationship as Claire has to tread the fine line between making the court believe the story is true and at the same time, protecting the woman she once loved.
Claire Roberts is considered something of a celebrity because of the YA series of novels she has written that are to be serialized by Netflix. She is supported at the trial by a wealthy ex-girlfriend Taylor who describes Claire as having short hair at the sides and looking like a hot version of Ruby Rose.
Rachel Fisher is eighteen when the story begins, she is aware that she is different in that she likes women. It is against the teachings of the Amish, and she is aware that she could be shunned within the community or banished. Her mother is dead, and her brother and her father are aware of her love of women but they believe that Rachel can meet this challenge by praying. Rachel firmly believes in the Amish way of life and runs away from the community because she doesn’t fit. However, when things start to go wrong, Rachel returns to her home. She has relationships with men as she tries to reconcile her thoughts with her life.
Sarah Zimmerman is the daughter of the Bishop of one of the strictest Amish Districts. He is a hard and inflexible man on both his family and his congregation. Sarah likes women and struggles to come to terms with the Amish way of life. She feels trapped when her mother passes away, and Sarah is left to run her mother’s quilt shop. She, too, has a relationship with a man to try to make herself fit into the Amish way of life.
Numerous side characters come to life during the story which is both a story about Rachel and Sarah, but also a story about their families and their community. Strong and memorable characters include the Bishop and Rachels brother Gideon.
The Writing Style
The book is written in an easy style, and there is a beautiful contrast between the modern day in the outside world at the beginning and the Amish way of speaking and living that follows it. I found the Amish portion of the story really emotional and had to take numerous breaks to think about what I had just read. As an English reviewer, the Amish are a long way from my norms and values and Ms. Dar grabbed me with her words and just didn’t let me go.
The best parts of this story are the description of Amish life and how Rachel, Sarah, and their families lived it. There is a twist to the story which is really well thought out.
I have no personal problem with it, but both the women in this story sleep with men (although we do not have any details) as part of their efforts to fit in as Amish.
Looking at the title and the cover of this book, I was slightly anxious that I had made the wrong choice in selecting this book to read and review. However, it was a really superb surprise and I found that my selection of something a little out of the ordinary was spot on. I also concerned that perhaps the book would be about religion, and I really wasn’t sure I wanted to read about it. Yes, it was about religion, but I found that it was more about fitting into a community. This is something we as lesbians struggle with in many places in the world and often, as in this story, at times within our own communities. So for me, it had refreshing parallels and gave me plenty to think about.
Excerpt from Girls Who Pray by Evelyn Dar
A horse-drawn buggy had just pulled up. Claire squinted as the driver of the buggy stepped out.
The man wore typical Amish clothing; a plain dark suit, black boots, and a broad-brimmed, black hat. He was clean-shaven and stood at least six and a half feet tall. When Claire saw the sandy brown hair sticking out of the sides of his hat, she gasped.
“Gideon,” she whispered to herself.
Gideon’s head turned as if he had heard her and their eyes met. He nodded slightly and tipped his hat.
“Jesus,” Taylor said. “He’s covered in black from head to toe. It’s like ninety degrees out.”
They watched in silence as Gideon hitched his horse and buggy. Claire was overcome with the urge to speak to him. The press momentarily forgotten, she hurried past them and down the steps. When she got within two feet of her target, she froze. Gideon’s back was to her and Claire had no idea what she would say, but she had to say something. Anything. She opened her mouth.
“Do not speak to him.”
Claire spun around. In front of her stood a stooped-over Amish man with a long, gray beard and severe eyes. Familiar severe eyes.
“The shunned have no place here,” he said in a gravelly voice.
Claire lowered her head. “Bishop.” He abruptly turned his back to her and hobbled away.
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Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9781689155687
- Publisher: Indie author
- Evelyn Dar Online
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