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Running Around (and Such): Lizzie Searches for Love Book 1    by Linda Byler Amazon.com order for
Running Around (and Such)
by Linda Byler
Order:  USA  Can
Good Books, 2010 (2010)
Softcover
*   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

A surprising number of Amish romances have been cropping up lately. I think the hustle and bustle of the modern world has people longing for simplicity, and this is what makes the Amish people so intriguing. Whatever the reason, Amish writer Linda Byler is entering into the arena with her YA series, Lizzie Searches for Love. The first book, Running Around (and Such), actually features parts from previous books by Byler - Lizzie, Lizzie and Emma, Lizzie's Carefree Years, Lizzie and Mandy, and Lizzie's Teen Years.

Fifteen-year-old Lizzie Glick is happy with her simple Amish life for the most part. She longs to wear high heels and shorter skirts and maybe even fix her hair the way the Mennonite girls at her new school do. But she is trying as hard as she can to understand what it means to accept God's will, especially when it comes to finding a husband. Lizzie's sister Emma has just turned sixteen and started a phase in her life called running around, where Amish youth get together for structured socialization and prayer on weekends. Lizzie cannot wait until she turns sixteen and can start running around, but there seems to be so much to learn about growing up including all of the household chores a wife is expected to know how to do that she has a hard time keeping her selfish feelings at bay and living her faith to the fullest.

As mentioned above, Running Around (and Such) contains material from Byler's Buggy Spoke series (which I have never read and had trouble finding much information on). I do not think the entire book is a repackaging, but enough of it is to hurt the story's continuity. The flashbacks to Lizzie's youth are quaint, but some of the storylines where she is a young teenager get muddled. The series of events (all while she is fifteen) seem to be that her family moves; her mother is hospitalized for a few days in the spring with pneumonia; she finishes up vocational school; she becomes a maud for the first time in the Fall; she goes to a skating party; she and her sisters mention how well her mom has recovered a year later; she works at a hatchery where her schedule is Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, but she starts a tenuous relationship with the egg truck driver who comes on Tuesday; she then goes to work that Fall for the hatchery owner's daughter for multiple weeks, but is only there one or two weeks because she turns sixteen and needs to learn how to sew at home. As far as I can tell, Lizzie is fifteen for at least a year and a half, which really confused me, in addition to shorter timeline problems within the events of her fifteenth year(s).

The other thing that bothered me was the title. Lizzie Searches for Love is accurate, as she does seem to be slightly boy-crazy throughout the whole story. However, she is not old enough to start running around until the last quarter of the book, which is also when most of the action in the book's description takes place. Because of this, the title is misleading. Aside from these problems, Running Around (and Such) gave great insight into the life of a teenage Amish girl. I am interested to see if Linda Byler has fixed the continuity problems in the rest of her Lizzie Searches for Love series, or if they will continue to seem like a mishmash of new material mixed with older works.

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