RITA Reader Challenge Review

RITA Reader Challenge: Katie’s Way by Marta Perry

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Title: Katie's Way
Author: Marta Perry
Publication Info: Berkley 2011
ISBN: 978-0425243220
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Katie's Way This review was written by Andrea. This story was nominated in the Best Inspirational Romance categories.

The summary:     

After a thwarted romance, Katie Miller starts over by moving to Pleasant Valley and opening a quilt shop. Soon Amish and Englisch turn the store into a lively spot…to the consternation of Caleb Brand, who crafts furniture next door. Then Katie's sister joins her, to escape rumors of her wild rumspringa, and Katie feels the burden of responsibility for a restless teenager.

Even worse, her efforts to bring more people to Main Street arouse resistance among local businesses. When acts of vandalism threaten Katie's shop, she turns to Caleb for comfort, and their friendship deepens. But will Caleb's secret past prevent him from embracing a future with Katie? Or will their fragile romance develop the strength to last a lifetime?

And here is Andrea's review:

This book, which is part of a series set in Pennsylvania Dutch Country, presents a tale that’s both one of love overcoming heartache and hardness, but it is also a story that offers us a tantalizing glimpse into a part of America that shies away from attention, adding an element of the exotic to a tale of personal growth and romance.

The tale turns on the issues of inclusion and exclusion within small communities that seem able to know gossip and news pretty much as soon as they happen. After a vicious breakup with her fiancé and best friend, Katie Miller decides to live on her own and set up a wool and sewing shop in Pleasant Valley. The main street where she lives and works is a mixed community of both Amish and English. Katie finds herself taking in her sister who has been behaving too boisterously for her parents’ taste on her Rumspringa.

Almost as soon as she arrives, Katie faces the challenges of fitting within a new community that seems to both know her own past and be uncertain whether they will judge or forgive her. Much of the dynamics of the relationships of the book deal with this forging of new relationships; in fact, the relationship Katie and her sister Rhoda have with their parents falls by the wayside during the evolution of this story, in favour of Katie’s relationships with the other shopkeepers in town and her friends in the village.

The story also turns on the way that heartbreak can break a person and keep them from being able to engage with life again. Katie Miller, and Caleb Brand who owns the furniture store in the other half of the building Katie rents, both have to face pasts where they were hurt and deceived by people they loved.

During the story, as Katie’s social network grows into a quilting circle and to a Pennsylvania Dutch days fair, we see the dangers inherent in wandering too far. A series of vandalisms rocks the community and challenges it to either respond by shutting down or by coming together. In this way, the larger issues echo the same challenges Caleb and Katie have faced themselves. The characters of Katie and Caleb and especially well paired, for they move with galacial speed in their abilities to warm to each other, taking the whole of the book to move beyond cordiality.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book, and I liked the way that the setting turned into an inherent part of the reconciliation that the book moves towards. The one aspect I found distracting was the occasional “Englisch” spellings for words; they were infrequent enough, yet noticeable enough that although they were probably meant for providing a sense of place, I felt that had already been accomplished in a less distracting way, simply through the descriptions of people and setting. While much of the book gently brought us to a closer sense within this closed community, this aspect seemed to work against the direction of the story itself.


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