Raised in an Old Order Mennonite community, Rachel Stoltzfus is a
strong-willed single woman, content living apart from mainstream society until
whispers stir the moment her belly swells with new life. Refusing to repent and
name the partner in her sin, Rachel feels the wrath of the religious sect as she
is shunned by those she loves most. She is eventually coerced into leaving by
her brother-in-law, the bishop.
But secrets run deep in this cloistered
community, and the bishop is hiding some of his own, threatening his conscience
and his very soul. When the life of Rachel’s baby is at stake, however, choices
must be made that will bring the darkness to light, forever changing the lives
of those who call Copper Creek home.
Jolina Petersheim holds degrees in English and Communication Arts from the
University of the Cumberlands. Though The Outcast is her first novel, her
writing has been featured in venues as varied as radio programs, nonfiction
books, and numerous online and print publications. Her blog is syndicated with
The Tennessean's "On Nashville" blog roll, as well as featured on other creative
writing sites. Jolina and her husband share the same unique Amish and Mennonite
heritage that originated in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, but now live in the
mountains of Tennessee with their young daughter. Follow Jolina and her blog at
Excerpt from Jolina's "About" page:
I was born on a hot August day in the heart of Amish country. While my
family moved to Tennessee when I was only three years old, my childhood was
filled with stories of Pennsylvania Dutch ancestors hiding TVs from bishops and
concealing permed hair beneath kapps. But this unique heritage did not interest
me. Instead, I pouted as my mother divided my waist-length hair into plaits and
then forced me to change from purple overalls into a jean skirt and sneakers in
preparation to visit our Plain friends--knowing, even at the tender age of six,
that this combination was a fashion faux pas. Playing Hide 'n' Seek or Kick the
Can with my Old Order Mennonite peers, however, I soon became grateful for that
skirt, which helped me transition from Southern Englischer to intimate
Years passed. I knew my Mennonite playmates had traded braided
pigtails for kapped buns, yet on a visit to the community, I rebelled against my
mother's instructions and arrived with unbound hair. During supper, which was
eaten beneath a popping kerosene bulb, the hostess came and stood behind my
portion of the bench. She slid out my blue satin ribbon and plaited my hair as I
stared into my bowl of grummbeer supp accented with homemade brot.
winter of my seventeenth year, I returned to the community to visit my
once-raucous playmate whose ill health had transformed her into a soft-spoken
friend. The whites of her deep brown eyes had yellowed from liver complications.
Her family and my own gathered around her bed, which was heaped with
spinning-star quilts, and sang hymns whose Pennsylvania Dutch words I did not
know, but whose meaning struck my heart with such clarity, tears slid down my
One week later, I stood beside her grave, wearing a thick black
headband to hide my newly pierced ears with the fake diamond studs that stabbed
the tender skin of my neck and gave me a migraine further magnified by
jaw-clenching grief. I remember how the somber community huddled around her
family as if their physical presence could shield them, not only from the
slashing wind and sleet, but from the reality that their dochder and
schweschder's body was about to be placed into the cold, hard ground.
left for college that summer, almost eighteen years to the day I had been born
in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. I was the first person in my immediate family
to attempt a higher education. As I unpacked my flared Lucky jeans and beaded
sweaters into wobbling dorm drawers, I thought I was leaving my Mennonite
heritage along with a certain broad-shouldered, hazel-eyed man whose father had
attended my father's Mennonite high school.
Three years, one death, and
two lifetimes' worth of tribulations later, I realized that I had not lost the
precious attributes surrounding my Plain heritage, so much as I had needed to go
away in order to find myself.
Well let me tell you this is not your everyday Mennonite book. I
have read many Amish and Mennonite books and NEVER have I read one where the
author does not write the way THEY think the plain people live.
This book is written with such heart and honesty that I could not
put it down. The author does not wite about families that are perfect and never
sin she writes about real people.
I am telling you all this is an author to watch out for. Jolina is
a fantastic author, she has a way with words and you are sure to feel like you
are right there in the pages of the book.
I Highly recommend this book.
I was given this book by the author for my honest