Reckless Heartby Amy Clipston
Slipping. Lydia Bontrager’s youngest sister is frighteningly ill, and as a good Amish daughter, it falls to Lydia to care for her siblings and keep the household running, in addition to working as a teacher’s assistant and helping part time at her grandmother’s bakery. Succumbing to stress, Lydia gives in to one wild night and returns home drunk.
Slipping. Lydia Bontrager’s youngest sister is frighteningly ill, and as a good Amish daughter, it falls to Lydia to care for her siblings and keep the household running, in addition to working as a teacher’s assistant and helping part time at her grandmother’s bakery. Succumbing to stress, Lydia gives in to one wild night and returns home drunk. The secret of that mistake leaves Lydia feeling even more restless and confused, especially when Joshua, the only boy she’s ever loved, becomes increasingly distant. When a non-Amish boy moves in nearby, Lydia finds someone who understands her, but the community is convinced Lydia is becoming too reckless. With the pressures at home and her sister’s worsening condition, a splintering relationship with Joshua, and her own growing questions over what is right, Lydia could lose everything that she’s ever held close.
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By Amy Clipston
ZONDERVANCopyright © 2012 Amy Clipston
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Chapter OneLydia Bontrager gripped the banister on the porch steps and heaved a deep breath. Closing her eyes, she willed the darkened farmland surrounding her to stop spinning. She groaned while touching her prayer covering, which had somehow come undone from her hairpins and hung crooked from atop her hair. The disheveled prayer covering seemed a fitting symbol for how she felt.
So this is what it means to be drunk.
Sunday evening had started out so innocently. She'd gone to a youth gathering at her mother's insistence, but her cousin, Amanda Beiler, hadn't attended. According to her other cousin, Nancy Kauffman, Amanda was still a bit under the weather after a bad case of the stomach flu. The group sang hymns in a barn on the farm owned by another member of their church district. But without Amanda there, Lydia found the gathering wasn't as much fun. It didn't help that Nancy spent most of the night flirting with her new boyfriend. Lydia had considered leaving, especially since Joshua Glick hadn't shown up either.
But it all changed when Mahlon Ebersol approached her.
Amanda had once said that fast-talking Mahlon was bad news. With his penetrating ice-blue eyes and sandy blond hair, he only had to smile to get all the girls in the church district to swoon. When he asked Lydia to join him and his friends out by the far barn, Lydia agreed before her brain engaged.
With a nervous giggle, she followed him and his usual entourage of boys and a few girls to the other side of the pasture. After a few prompts and dares, she took a swig of her first beer. Although it tasted worse than old milk, she didn't stop drinking it until the bottle, and the one that followed, was empty. Mahlon and his group seemed so cool and she wanted to fit in.
Opening her eyes, Lydia studied the front door of her white house. She knew in her heart the truth about her behavior this evening. She didn't really yearn to fit in with Mahlon and his wild friends. She even knew she could have resisted his smile if she'd wanted to.
What she'd really craved was to drink away the pain caused by what lay beyond that front door—her baby sister's mysterious illness, which had gripped her family for the past month. Four-year-old Ruthie had been fighting to shake a cold for weeks. Their mother tried all of the herbal remedies that had helped Lydia and her middle siblings, Titus and Irma, in the past. But little Ruthie's body refused to heal. Her fever had persisted, along with mysterious bruising, aches, and pains.
The doctor's visits increased, and her mother's stress level had heightened late last week. Usually sweet and patient, she had become almost militant, barking orders and snapping whenever the smallest mistake was made. Though she knew it was wrong, Lydia was relieved and secretly happy when her mother was in another room.
Taking another deep breath to steady herself, Lydia slowly started up the front steps and wrenched open the door. The large kitchen was dark since her parents always snuffed out the gas lamps when they went to bed. She'd returned home in the dark after attending youth gatherings in the past, but for some reason the kitchen seemed darker and larger than it ever had before.
If I were English, I could flip a switch and banish this darkness. But she knew it was an idle thought—propane- and battery-operated lamps were all her Amish tradition would allow. Lydia's only beacon of light would have to be the dim glow from the woodstove.
Lydia trudged across the kitchen, bumping into the table and stumbling twice as she moved through the family room and reached the bottom of the staircase. She leaned against the banister for balance and absently wondered why anyone would want to get tipsy. What was the purpose aside from feeling sick and nearly falling down?
At the top of the stairs, the glow of a propane lamp cast a faint light in the upstairs hallway. One of her parents was up with Ruthie! How could she possibly sneak to her room without being discovered?
Guilt rained down on her. Her mother and father thought Lydia had been singing hymns and talking with friends, and now she was sneaking into the house drunk. How could she betray her parents this way? They'd always believed the best of her. She'd never once given them a reason to doubt her. And now she'd managed to risk ruining that trust in just a few hours.
She gazed up the stairs, and for a moment she was convinced the house was swaying. She had to get up those stairs and to her room before she was discovered. Her legs buckled, and she wished she'd never met Mahlon Ebersol.
She shook her head and silently berated herself.
Tipsy or not, you can climb these stairs, just like you have every night.
With her eyes focused on the light glowing from Ruthie's room at the top of the steps, Lydia did her best to tiptoe up, tripping over her black sneakers only twice. When she reached the landing, she bit her bottom lip and silently debated if she should tell her mother that she was home. Of course Mamm would worry, but she also trusted her daughter to get home safely.
Lydia gritted her teeth at that word again. Trust.
She knew the right thing to do was to alert her mother that she was home. But if her mother saw her crooked prayer covering or if she caught a whiff of her breath ... No, her mother didn't need this stress on top of Ruthie's unending illness.
What have I done?
She cupped her hands to her face and sucked in yet another deep breath. She then leaned over and peeked through the crack in the doorway, finding her mother, Beth Anne, rocking Ruthie in her arms. The only sounds in the room were the hiss of the lantern, the rhythmic creak of the chair, and her mother's soft, sweet voice singing a hymn to her baby in High German.
Tears filled Lydia's eyes as she took in the scene. How could she have been out drinking while her mother was up late consoling Ruthie?
Pushing those thoughts aside, Lydia knew she had to get to her room and climb into bed. Work would come early in the morning, as her parents always said. Lydia would have to help handle nearly two dozen spirited scholars at the one-room schoolhouse where she served as a teacher's assistant on Mondays and Wednesdays. How I hope they behave tomorrow.
She did her best to straighten her prayer covering and then walked past the room, pretending not to see her mother in the rocking chair.
"Lydia?" Mamm's voice called in a stage whisper through the hallway.
"Ya?" Lydia's heart pounded as she stood outside her bedroom, which was right next door to Ruthie's.
"Come to the door," Mamm whispered.
Lydia bit her lower lip and moved to the door, standing just outside the flood of light. "How is she?" she asked.
Her mother's pretty face was tired. Lydia had recently noticed the lines and dark circles under Mamm's eyes; it seemed as though she had aged ten years in only a few weeks.
"She was fussy earlier," Mamm began, "so I decided to rock her. Now that she's so comfortable, I hate to move her."
"She looks peaceful." Lydia's strangled whisper felt riddled with guilt. She cleared her throat. "Gut nacht. Call me if you need help." She turned to go, losing her footing and then regaining her composure before tripping on her own feet. She almost snorted with sarcasm at her offer of help. How could she possibly rock Ruthie if she couldn't even stand up straight? Lydia would injure both her sister and herself.
"Wait," Mamm called. "Did you have fun?"
"Ya," Lydia said from the other side of the door.
"Gut," Mamm said. "Get to bed now. It's late, and work comes early in the morning."
"Gut nacht," Lydia repeated, trying not to walk into the doorway as she stepped through the darkness into her room.
She flipped on the battery-operated lantern sitting on her nightstand and its dim light flooded her small room, casting shadows on the plain white walls. Lowering herself onto her bed, she wished the room would stop spinning. If I feel this bad, how is Mahlon feeling? He drank at least as much as I did. Though, when she thought about it, he didn't seem to have any problems steering the horse when he drove her and a few other friends home in his buggy. Perhaps he was experienced at this sort of thing and alcohol didn't bother him as much anymore. But Lydia didn't want to ever get comfortable with this feeling.
She struggled when she got up to change into her nightclothes and stumbled while hanging her simple blue dress and apron on the peg on her wall. Crossing back to her bed, she stopped at the window and moved the green shade, revealing the dark, shadowy pasture. Her eyes settled on Joshua's house, focusing on his room, which was located at the center of the bank of upstairs windows. She wondered what had kept him away from the youth gathering tonight, and a melancholy feeling settled in her stomach.
Lydia had known Joshua her whole life. When they were younger they'd played during recess at the one-room schoolhouse where Lydia now taught part-time. Not only was he handsome, with dark brown hair and warm blue-green eyes, he was always nice to her. When the other boys teased her for tripping on the playground, Joshua defended her. When her father needed assistance repairing the pasture fence after a bad storm, Joshua and his father lent a hand. And when Lydia needed someone to talk to after arguing with her middle sister, Irma, Joshua would listen, helping her to clear her head so she could go back into the house and apologize.
Joshua was there for her, ready to give her a smile or a good word of advice when she needed it most. She'd always hoped that, when she turned sixteen, she and Joshua would date and possibly even get married after a few years. He was her idea of the perfect husband—honest, hardworking, and handsome. Now that she was sixteen-and-a-half and he was seventeen, maybe her dream would become a reality.
She involuntarily swayed and clutched the windowsill for balance. Joshua would be appalled if he heard about her behavior tonight. Although he and Mahlon had been good friends when they were younger, Joshua stopped socializing with him soon after Mahlon and his entourage of boys became rowdy.
What if Josh finds out I drank with Mahlon tonight? Would his opinion of me change?
Lydia grimaced and pushed the shade back in place as the question swirled through her already-swimming mind.
Climbing into bed, Lydia silently prayed, trying her best to ignore the sickening feeling that the bed was spinning.
She begged God to forgive her for her sinful behavior tonight and she also asked to keep her actions a secret. Although she knew she should be punished for her indiscretions, she also dreaded the pain the news of her behavior would cause her family.
She closed her eyes and, while still deep in prayer, fell asleep.
Excerpted from Reckless Heart by Amy Clipston Copyright © 2012 by Amy Clipston. Excerpted by permission of ZONDERVAN. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author
Amy Clipston is the award-winning and bestselling author of the Kauffman Amish Bakery series. Her novels have hit multiple bestseller lists including CBD, CBA, and ECPA. Amy holds a degree in communication from Virginia Wesleyan College and works full-time for the City of Charlotte, NC. Amy lives in North Carolina with her husband, two sons, and three spoiled rotten cats. Visit her online at amyclipston.com Facebook: AmyClipstonBooks Twitter: @AmyClipston
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Lydia is struggling. Her four-year-old sister is diagnosed with leukemia and Lydia doesn’t know what to do. In a moment of weakness at a youth meeting, Lydia goes with Mahlon and his friends and drinks beer, something her parents would never forgive if they found out. When Lydia’s mother has to take her sister to the hospital, Lydia must help out more at home. When an English family moves to town, Lydia befriends their teenage son, Tristan. But the community doesn’t like Lydia being friends with Tristan. It’s not proper. But Lydia has no one else to talk to. She’s doing her best to take care of the kids and to cook and clean and work, but she wants to be a regular teenage girl too. And she’s worried that she’s missing out, especially when she hears that Joshua, the boy she likes, might be talking with another girl at the youth meetings. How will Lydia ever get married if she can go to youth meetings? How will she know if she supposed to be a teacher or working her grandmother’s bakery? And if she can’t talk to Tristan, who can she talk to? I enjoyed this book a lot. It showed a realistic portrayal of a teenage Amish girl. I was fascinated to see how much pressure they put on their kids and that Amish teens do experience some of the same temptations as regular teens. The segregation frustrated me, but I understand it. I realize that Lydia’s parents were under a great deal of stress, but I was annoyed at how they were treating her. This was a gripping story that sucked me in until the very end. Loved it!
Review: "A Reckless Heart" by Amy Clipston was wonderful interesting read. There will be illness, misunderstandings, sadness, lots of conflict, faith, family, loyalty and love. The glossary at the front of the book with all of the Amish phrases was real good add giving you the definitions of many of the hard pronounced words. The novel is set from a modern day Amish community with the oldest of four (Lydia) children has the a lots of responsibilities put on her due to the fact of a illness of a younger sister battling leukemia. Their mother has to leave to take care of the younger child, Ruthie who is in hospital and the father has to who works overtime and still has a finance problems. Lydia who is sixteen year old wants to date and be with her friends but this is not to be and this has made her very unhappy. It seemed that all is falling on Lydia...but was it? There was help from family and Amish friends. I really enjoyed seeing how this community came in with their assistance, however, Lydia felt that it was all on her so she gets into many situations that really she should not have by not listening and obeying the rules ....of her father and even the Amish church which was to obey and respect. Many things come upon Lydia....her drank with Mahlon and his friends where she lied to save her friendship...then meeting the English boy(Tristan) whose family had moved recently into the community..however, was she supposed to be alone with him? Yes, you can see that this was a difficult time for Lydia but sometimes I wondered if she caused some of this because...well, I will stop and just say you must pick up the excellent read that this author did with "A Reckless Heart" to see how this story will turn out for Lydia .... her reputation, sister, family and future who was only yearning for the 'normal' life Lydia once had. Will she get it back? Will she be able to face these challenges? This was be a new read for a lot of us ...being Amish, different...and coming to us from a young Amish view. Being a teachers' assistant and also working the other times in her grandmothers bakery.. now having to take care of two younger siblings and the home...and even giving the family her money... Lydia earns to help her family... Wow! that was a lots for Lydia...Will she be able to handle all of this and what about her friendship with Joshua? The characters were for the most part very realistic and intriguing. I was kept turning the pages to see what was going to happen next. This was a excellent christian novel that has a glossary in the front of the read and Amish recipes at the end. Oh! I really like the pray chains that were so active in the read. OK, yes I enjoyed the read and learned a lot so..... I would recommend "A Reckless Heart" to any Preteen...YA.... and even Adult ....Enjoy!
Review:Reckless Heart by Amy Clipston 5 STARS I gave Reckless Heart 5 stars because it made me envolved in the story so much. I cried in it. I wanted to say things back to the characters. I was so Lydia Bontrager side except for one thing. Lydia Bontrager was 16 and wanted to be like other teens in her church. She was hoping that her good friend Josh would ask her to go on dates. She worked as a teacher assistant and in her families bakery. Her little sister was really ill and she was concerned and worried so much. One evening at her youth group her best friend and her cousin Amanda was not thier. neither was her neighbor and crush Josh thier. She was lonely and worried. When Mahlon Ebersol invited her to come join him and some friends into the barn with him. Lydia went and they got her drunk. She knew it was wrong and vowed not to do it. Her little sister Ruthie was diagnosed with cancer and had to go to bigger hospital. Her mom and grandma will also go to be with her. Lydia now had too still work her two jobs and give her father both paychecks to help the family pay bills. He would work extra long if he could. Lydia had two take care of her other two siblings and the house. Lydia agreed to help. She cooked breakfast, made sure her brother & sister were ready for school and come straight home to cook and clean. Her church neighbors helped her with some cleaning and meals. No one really appreciated how much stress she was under. How tired she was from all the extra jobs she was dealing with. She had new nieghbors and met the cute 4 year old and her puppy. When her older brother came to get her she met Tristian. Who was easy to talk to. The next day the three Bontrager childen took box of bakery items to welcome them to the nieghbor hood. Tristian was a new friend he told her about school, his girl friend and family. Lydia told him about her sister illness. Lydia kept getting lectures about her friendship with a english. Mahlon was always flirting with her at church and she was not interested in going to drink with him after the first time. Her friends told her that Josh was interested in another girl at youth meetings. Lydia had a lot of trials. She tried to do all her family wanted her to be. She kept praying. I read last night till I could not keep my eyes opened and finshed first thing this morning. This is my first book of the series I have read but not the last. I was given this ebook to read in exchange of honest review from Netgalley. Thier are no warnings about reading this book except you might want some kleenex in case you need them. I did! 05/01/2012 PUB Zondervan
I love reading about the Amish - their culture, community, and faith. Reckless Heart did not disappoint! Amy Clipston has penned a wonderful, heartfelt story inviting us, the readers, into the lives of Lydia and her family. Although Reckless Heart is written toward the 'Young Adult' crowd, I had no problem relating to the emotional roller coaster Lydia was on. As a mother, I could only imagine the difficulties of raising and loving a chronically ill child. This novel has something for everyone... young and young-at-heart! Click HERE to read Chapter 1! I received a complimentary copy of Reckless Heart from Z Street Team and Zondervan Publishing for my honest review.
Reckless Heart by Amy Clipston is a fast-paced, great read! Even though this book is part of Amy's "Young Adult" series, any adult will enjoy reading it! Sixteen year-old Lydia Bontrager has not made some very wise choices lately. She feels much pressure and stress since her younger sister recently became ill. Her mother is staying in the hospital with her sister, which means Lydia, being the oldest, is basically in charge of making sure the household runs smoothly. Lydia's father has picked up extra work to pay the hospital bills so he does not get home until night and is usually exhausted. Lydia is not sure how much more she can handle. Is she being selfish in this situation? Will her life ever return to "normal" again? The author does a great job of bringing the characters to life; you will feel like you are right there with them in beautiful Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. I highly recommend checking this book out!
I LOVED this book. This was the first Amy Clipston book I read and I can definitely say it won't be the last. I won't spend time telling what the book is about because that is covered in the description. I will tell you the story is so good and written so well I was pulled into it and was able to read this book in hours, not days. (In fact I had to force myself to do housework and have reading this as a reward!). This book is not your typical Amish fiction story. Amy writes about a serious health issue and how it affected the entire family, focusing on Lydia, the main character. The story was written in a way that I forgot I was reading about fictional characters. These characters became real to me and I couldn't wait to find out what would happen. This book made me tear up one second and smile the next. This book takes you on a roller coaster ride of emotions. I highly recommend this book to everyone who enjoys Amish fiction. I will be telling others about it. This definitely goes on the keeper shelf!!! Thank you, Amy, for writing such a great book.
Good. Reading it right niow. Cant stop
Amy Clipston has written several Amish-themed novels. Her books are Christian novels, some even include Amish recipes. As a best-selling author, Clipston writes Young Adult inspirational fiction and Adult inspirational fiction. From what I’ve read so far, you don’t want to miss any of them. Reckless Heart is a novel about a 16-year-old Amish girl faced with challenges that would give many girls pause. Her youngest sister, Ruth, is sickly, then the family finds out it’s leukemia. Leukemia is a daunting disease for the well-insured, for an Amish family it brings extra challenges on the financial side. As a responsible Amish youth, Lydia takes the added burden of caring for her younger siblings while her mother and Ruthie are battling leukemia. Lydia also works two part-time jobs, as a teacher’s assistant and in the family bakery. She faces challenges of feeling left out as her friends go to the sing-alongs where the bloom of first love begins in the Amish community. She finds out the boy she likes may be seeing another girl, that her friends are having fun, and then meets a new neighbor family, Englishers. The community interferes with her English friendship, possibly mainly because that family has a young boy the likes Lydia, although he knows and she knows they’re friends and each like someone in their own communities, those not involved in the friendship see danger of outside influences (without merit, I might add). Lydia gives the money she earns to help her family in its time of need, feels the call of two possible professions (until she becomes a wife anyway) between teaching and the bakery. She has normal teenage angst of wanting to be with friends, while needing to stay home and help. Lydia lashes out, mildly according to worldly standards, but it’s rather large according to a secluded community, about her need to be with friends. Her father responds that she’s disrespectful and punishes her. All through the book I found myself alternately rooting for Lydia, being angry at dad, and hoping for Ruthie. While some of these issues are the same issues all teens face, some are bigger than some teens face and some are smaller than some teens face, I can see how it can be confusing for a teenager. Her responsibilities increase as she shows she’s capable of dealing with them until she feels overwhelmed. I won’t go further without disclosing the ending. Lydia shows us that, no matter what your background is, there are problems to deal with, some large, some small, and some are simply misunderstandings. No one is exempt. This is a fun read and I’ll give it a 4 out of 5 stars. Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.
I so enjoy visiting with the Kauffman family, I've come to know them. We are visiting with Lydia Bontrager and her struggles. Her baby sister Ruthie is diagnosed with Leukemia and the family is very worried and financially strapped. Besides the worry about her sister she is at a crossroad as to what she want to do...be a teacher or work in her Grandmother Elizabeth's bakery? She is also facing some challenges from some decisions she made, and really regrets. At 16 she takes on the role of an adult, filling in her Mom who has to go to the hospital and stay with Ruthie. So Besides working full time, she has a full time job being a Mother to her two other younger siblings. The Amish Community rallies around the family, and the prayer chains are active...including the new "English" neighbors. With the new neighbors comes a boy Lydia's age...Tristan. You will be wondering who she is going to end up with?? Tristan, life long friend Joshua, or trouble Mahlon? Another great read by Amy Clipston...Enjoy! I received this book from Netgalley and the Publisher Zondervan.
Glance over the list of words in the glossary before reading the book. Trying to look them up and read makes the story move too slowly. It is a very good story about Lydia and her struggles with life because her sister has cancer. It causes stress and changes the whole families life. Lydia is like a lot of youth when they start maturing. She made a mistake that impacted her life. She learned from it but it bothered her until she was able to share with her family. She was able to move past it. The friendship Lydia makes with an English neighbor brings her stress. But she cannot understand why she cannot have a friendship with a Christian. Yet when the community has a need and Ruthie, the sister, is rushed back to hospital, the English neighbors are there to assist the whole community. Lydia has had her eyes set on Joshua. But at 16 he doesn't seem to be interested in her. But he has had problems in his own family. Sometimes it takes time to move past a friendship of years to a relationship. Try to read without looking up words and you will find the story more enjoyable
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars. My Overall Thoughts/Impressions: First off, I'd like to thank Zondervan for giving me a copy of this to review in exchange for my honest review. I went into this book with no expectations. I hadn't read anything else by Clipston and didn't really know what to expect. However, I quickly was entranced by this story. Lydia was a character that I both respected and admired. Her strength and commitment to do what was right was inspiring. Another character that I loved was Tristan. Tristan was not Amish, but was Christian. He was just a genuinely nice guy (one that I wouldn't mind meeting). I really enjoyed learning about him in this novel. In addition to the characters, Clipston also weaved issues of faith into her novel in a way that never seemed overbearing or forced. She created a plot that touched my heart and left me reflecting on my own life. This novel was both poignantly moving and entertaining. It's been awhile since I've read an Amish fiction book that I enjoyed as much as this one. Clipston is definitely an author that I will be keeping tabs on. She has an ability to create a story that is compelling. I know that I will definitely want to read the companion series. In Summary: An enjoyable novel that I absolutely adored reading. Definitely recommend this to fans of Christian fiction of all ages. Warnings/Side-notes: This is an Amish fiction novel meaning that its clean. There was a few references to alcohol then. The Wrap-up: I'm really glad I could read this one. It was an enjoyable read. Clipston is an incredible author who I will definitely read more from. Thanks Zondervan for this opportunity. Love, Danica Page