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The Covenant    by Beverly Lewis order for
by Beverly Lewis
Order:  USA  Can
Bethany, 2002 (2002)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio
* *   Reviewed by Melissa Parcel

Abram Ebersol's daughters come of age in the years following World War II. Nineteen-year-old Sadie, the eldest, is completing her rumschpringe time, when Amish teens are allowed greater freedom. She will soon finish her baptismal classes and kneel to make a covenant with the Amish church. But she's restless, and wonders if she wants to continue in the church.

Leah, almost sixteen, looks forward to attending singings and hopefully finding someone to court her. When she was ten, Leah made a pact with Jonas Mast, and she hopes he is still interested in her. However Gideon Peachey, the blacksmith's son, is Abram's choice for her. Mary Ruth and Hannah, thirteen-year-old twins, have started to notice boys, and also have secret desires of their own.

Sadie's unrest takes her out late at night to a local caf9 where she meets Derek Schwartz. Sadie starts a hidden relationship with Derek, an Englisher, with whom she is forbidden to fraternize. They secretly meet in the woods behind her home, and Leah becomes aware of the situation. Leah promises not to tell, but as events escalate she finds it more and more difficult to keep silent. What will become of Sadie and Derek's relationship? As Sadie withdraws and begins to look ill, how long can Leah keep the secret from her family?

Steeped in Amish tradition, The Covenant is a beautiful beginning to the Abram's Daughters series. Each character has a unique voice and story. Beverly Lewis adds just a touch of mystery, especially in Aunt Lizzie, mother Ida's unmarried sister. The reader is given just enough information about Lizzie to become intrigued. Hopefully we won't be kept in the dark through too many books. I found Leah, who is beautiful both inside and out, particularly endearing.

The author gives us a glimpse into another world where people don't drive cars or use electricity, and farming is a way of life. Above all, The Covenant is a story about family and faith, giving readers the taste of Plain life. It's not a fast paced novel, but a quick pace in the Amish world would feel unnatural. Rich characterization and a touch of intrigue will keep readers turning pages. The series continues with The Betrayal in September 2003.

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