Emma Blooms at Last
by Naomi King
Many authors struggle to create one or two main characters that readers connect with, that readers care about. Naomi King has managed to create an entire cast of characters that you want to get to know better. You feel embarrassed for them, grieve for them, and laugh with them.
Emma is the character I connected with the most in this story. She’s an introvert who is very much focused on her family. As the title would suggest, Emma’s character grows tremendously throughout the story. While Amanda and Wyman also have a major plot arc and point of view scenes, for me, the heart of this story is Emma. Her journey, and Jerome’s patient love, are what I loved the most about Emma Blooms At Last.
There are several point of view characters which can sometimes be distracting. I would have liked to see a bit more focus on Emma and Jerome, but that’s just a personal preference. It’s a wonderful story overall. For a heartwarming faith-filled story, pick this one up.
See below for an excerpt.
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Romance is in the air during the fall wedding season in the Amish community of Cedar Creek. But while one loving couple prepares to tie the knot, Amanda and Wyman Brubaker’s large family faces a threat from outside their happy circle…and must learn to pull together.
Recently wed Amanda and Wyman Brubaker are thrilled that their children from previous marriages have blended together to form a strong family. But when the construction of Wyman’s new grain elevator is delayed, making the project more expensive than anticipated, Amanda’s determination to rally the kids into taking on work to improve the family’s finances comes into conflict with Wyman’s sense of responsibility as head of the household….
Meanwhile, as James Graber and Abby Lambright prepare for their long-awaited nuptials, folks gather from far and wide. Amanda’s nephew Jerome has long been smitten with James’s sister Emma and wants to seize this chance to woo her. But Emma’s been burned once and is twice shy of trusting the fun-loving, never-serious Jerome. As Emma and Jerome struggle to understand each other, and find the courage to make a leap of faith, the Brubakers face a bigger challenge than they first anticipated and begin to discover just what it means to fight…the Amish way.
“What do I need to know to work in the store, Abby?” Emma grabbed the handle of the pull cart, which was loaded with dirty tablecloths, and the two of them started across the Lambrights’ yard. “I hate to waste Sam’s time if I’m not qualified. And everyone knows it’ll take three people to accomplish what you do in the store.”
Abby waved her off, considering her answer as they went around to the back of the tall, white house. “Can you figure change and count it back?” she asked. “We’ll teach you how to run the cash register, of course, but sometimes I find it just as easy to total the small orders on paper—especially if the line’s getting backed up,” she replied. “There are times we really could use a second cash register, but Sam won’t hear of that.”
Emma considered her reply. “My math’s pretty solid. I’ve been keeping our home checkbook—and James’s business account—for a long time. If we practice making change, I think I’ll be all right with that part.”
“Jah, I think so, too.”
They entered the mudroom then, where Abby ran water into the ringer washer while Emma checked the tablecloths for stains. She was grateful for this time to discuss these details while it was just she and Abby, because she trusted her best friend to tell her the truth about the job. While Emma was flattered that Sam thought she was capable and competent, there was no denying that working in the mercantile would be a big responsibility. “So . . . what’s the worst part about running the store? What do you think I’ll have trouble with?” she asked.
Abby’s eyebrows rose as she thought about her answer. “It’s really important to greet people when they come in. You’ll want to ask how you can help them, of course,” she continued as the washer began agitating. “But you have to look them in the eye—especially the folks you don’t know—so they realize you’re aware of their presence. It cuts down on shoplifting.”
Emma’s hand flew to her mouth. “You mean people steal from the store? What should I do if I see that happening?”
“Do not go up to them and accuse them of anything,” Abby warned her quickly. “The best thing is to let Sam know that you suspect something, and he’ll handle it. During the Christmas shopping season, a lot of little items get stuck into purses and coat pockets. It’s best to keep circulating, to keep talking so everyone knows you’re around.
“It’s mostly English,” Abby continued above the noise of the agitating washer. “They tend to think that we Plain folks aren’t bright enough to figure out what they’re doing, or that because we don’t keep our inventory on a computer, we won’t miss the merchandise they take.”
As Abby tucked the ends of the first tablecloth into the wringer and began to crank, squeezing out the excess water, her expression became more serious. “Your trusting nature might give you some problems, Emma. It’s like the Scripture from First Corinthians, which Vernon preached on during the wedding,” she went on in a thoughtful tone. “You’re patient and kind. You bear all things and believe all things—and when you work with the public, you need to question more and accept less. You’ll have to stand firm when folks dish up their attitude, too—and when they try to return things without a receipt. I suspect that part won’t come easy for you.”
Emma sighed. Abby made it sound like she’d need to cultivate a whole new personality. But at least she was being honest. “Mamm and Dat have told me a time or two not to be such a doormat,” she admitted. “I’ll have to work on that.”
Drawing upon her experiences in Jamesport, the largest Old Order Amish community west of the Mississippi, longtime Missourian Naomi King writes of simpler times and a faith-based lifestyle in her Home at Cedar Creek/One Big Happy Family series. Like her series heroine, Abby Lambright, Naomi considers it her personal mission to be a listener—to heal broken hearts and wounded souls—and to share her hearth and home. Faith and family, farming and frugality are hallmarks of her lifestyle: like Abby, she made her wedding dress and the one her mom wore, too! She’s a deacon, a dedicated church musician and choir member, and when she’s not writing, Naomi loves to travel, try new recipes, crochet, and sew. Naomi, whose real name is Charlotte Hubbard, now lives in Minnesota with her husband and their border collie, Ramona.
One Big Happy Family, Book 2
NAL Trade (November 4, 2014)
ISBN-13: 9780451417886 •• ISBN-10: 0451417887
The Book Depository •• http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/book/9780451417886
IndieBound •• http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780451417886
Powell’s •• http://www.powells.com/biblio?isbn=9780451417886