When the Soul Mends is the 3rd book in the Sister’s of the Amish Quilt series by Cindy Woodsmall. It follows the story of Hannah Lapp who left her Old Order Amish community two years prior under shadow of disgrace and shame. Now, having carefully built up a new life, and excited about her future, Hannah finds herself pulled back into her old life when tragedy strikes among the Amish where she grew up.
A thread of tension weaves together the pieces of Hannah’s life. Currently happy and soon to be engaged to an Englisher named Martin Palmer, it becomes apparent that she hasn’t severed all the ties to her past, as her mind occasionally wanders back to her former love, Paul Waddell. When the need arises for her to temporarily return home, old tensions flare and questions arise. While helping her family deal with her sister’s mental illness, she finds herself confronting old problems from a different mindset.
Hannah’s struggles stem from trauma in her past combined with the ordinary dilemmas that occur as young adults make their way in the world. She must decide who she will be. As I read this story, I enjoyed the way the author compared and contrasted life her life among the Amish versus among the English. On the outside, there were obvious differences in clothing and transportation, but Hannah found that the biggest changes were in her heart. Most of the the characters in this story were minimally developed, but I’m sure reading all three books in the series presents them more fully. However one character rapidly changed in the story leaving it feeling disjointed. Initially Martin Palmer is presented as a doting boyfriend who absolutely adores Hannah and is excited to start a marriage together. However, as she needs to return home to deal with family business, he quickly becomes distant. That alone isn’t that odd as relationships can be strained, but the way he starts to pressure her to dress more provocatively and participate in his intense social obligations was a major swing from the way his character was initially established. At the beginning of the book, the English world seemed like a great fit for Hannah but by the end, due to Martin’s huge shift, she no longer seemed to fit despite the fact that nothing else in that world had changed. Despite that, the overall story was interesting and provided interesting insights into the Amish culture.