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Oct 18, 2012

The Memory Jar by Tricia Goyer

by Tricia Goyer
Can romance survive the heavy chains of family obligations? 

The Memory Jar by Tricia Goyer
Zondervan October 23, 2012
Paperback 345 pages
Review copy provided via LitFuse/NetGalley, thank you!
Burton Book Review Rating: 4 stars

Every year, 30-40 young Amish men descend on the cozy little town of West Kootenai, Montana, arriving in the spring to live there for six months and receive 'resident' status for the hunting season in the fall. They arrive as bachelors, but go home with brides. Sarah Shelter has lived in West Kootenai for the last ten years and wonders if she will ever fall in love. Since the tragic death of her best friend, she carries her memories in a jar along with the small items connected to them. For just as long, she's also been carrying around her emotions instead of allowing them to penetrate deep into her heart. Now she's met a kind and gentle man who may be able to break down the wall. But can Sarah risk her heart to finally achieve her dreams?

Tricia Goyer is a popular Christian fiction author and I've wanted to read her books for at least a year. I finally was able to read By The Light of The Silvery Moon, a Titanic themed romance, which I did enjoy so I did want to try another one of hers. Add to the fact that I've been scared of Amish fiction, I figured let's mark that off my bucket list too. I normally do not read contemporary fiction because I do not feel an affinity with modern characters, but since the Amish are famous for their simple and basic way of life, I had a feeling the modern setting would not exactly be glaring, and I wasn't wrong.

Sarah Shelter still suffers from grief over the death of her best friend, and it isn't until she meets Jathan that she sees there is life outside her humble world and the memory jars. Sarah is a strong willed person and easy to admire and feel sorry for, but as a reader we immediately want more for her..such as a love interest. Jathan has his own issues as well, as he deals with the Amish tradition of being the one to care for his large family when his father falls ill. Opportunities arise that allow Jathan and Sarah to explore new avenues, but while doing so they wind up alienating those who cling to the Amish tradition, forcing Jathan and Sarah to make difficult decisions.

Sarah loves to bake, and she is quite good at it. As it turns out, Jathan does too.. and has a business head for it as well. Will his family loosen their reins on Jathan to allow him a chance at happiness? I loved how the story played out; it started off slow but this allowed for the greater appreciation of these characters and their dynamics to grow and feed off each other. There were some ups and downs to the story, and I loved the realistic way Tricia Goyer seemed to handle the story arc. Not everything can have a happy ending, but we can work towards something even better. I love the idea of memory jars, and I am not going to be afraid of Amish fiction anymore either. This was one of the first 'contemporary' reads I enjoyed in a long time, probably because the setting was more nature related and character driven.

Thank you to Litfuse for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my review.