The Bridge of Peace (Ada's House Series #2)

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Love alone isn’t enough to overcome some obstacles.
Lena Kauffman is a young Old Order Amish schoolteacher who has dealt all her life with attention raised by a noticeable birthmark on her cheek. Having learned to move past the stares and whispers, Lena channels her zest for living into her love of teaching. But tensions mount as she is challenged to work with a rebellious young man and deal with several crises at the schoolhouse that ...
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The Bridge of Peace (Ada's House Series #2)

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Love alone isn’t enough to overcome some obstacles.
Lena Kauffman is a young Old Order Amish schoolteacher who has dealt all her life with attention raised by a noticeable birthmark on her cheek. Having learned to move past the stares and whispers, Lena channels her zest for living into her love of teaching. But tensions mount as she is challenged to work with a rebellious young man and deal with several crises at the schoolhouse that threaten her other students. Her lack of submission and use of ideas that don’t line up with the Old Ways strengthen the school board’s case as they begin to believe that Lena is behind all the trouble.

One member of the school board, Grey Graber, feels trapped by his own stifling circumstances. His wife, Elsie, has shut him out of her life, and he doesn’t know how long he can continue to live as if nothing is wrong. As the two finally come to a place of working toward a better marriage, tragedy befalls their family.

Lena and Grey have been life-long friends, but their relationship begins to crumble amidst unsettling deceptions, propelling each of them to finally face their own secrets. Can they both find a way past their losses and discover the strength to build a new bridge?

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  • Cindy Woodsmall
    Cindy Woodsmall  

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Readers of Cindy Woodsmall's paperback originals know what to expect: faith-based novels set in Old Order Amish communities that spotlight problems of belief, affection, and commitment that we can all understand. The Bridge of Peace is the second volume of Woodsmall's Ada House series, but its soul-touching story of a young schoolteacher with a minor disfigurement is powerful enough to stand on its own. (Hand-selling tip: Cindy Woodsmall is the author of the Sisters of the Quilt series. Over 800,000 copies of her novels are in print.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781400073979
  • Publisher: The Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/31/2010
  • Series: Ada's House Series, #2
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 577,019
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Cindy Woodsmall

CINDY WOODSMALL is a New York Times best-selling author whose connection with the Amish community has been featured on ABC Nightline and on the front page of The Wall Street Journal. Cindy lives in Georgia with her family.

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Read an Excerpt


Quiet hung in the air inside the one-room schoolhouse as the children waited on Lena’s next action. The curiosity she loved to stir in her scholars now filled their minds in ways she wished she could erase. The hush wasn’t out of respect or desk work or learning.
Staring into defiant eyes, she stood. “Return to your seat, Peter.” With his back to the other students, he leaned across her oak desk. “Make me.” The threat in his voice was undeniable. She’d spoken to his parents about his behavior, but they’d believed that their son was only kidding and that she was taking his words and actions all wrong.
Nothing about the conduct of this six-foot man-child hinted at humor. He wasn’t teasing, but he was toying with her—like her barn cats did with field mice before killing their prey. Feeling as unsightly as a wounded rodent was part of daily life for her. It even slipped into her dreams on a regular basis. But Lena was no mouse. When dealing with Peter, her will battled with her emotions. The teacher in her wanted to find a way to reach inside him, to get beyond the prejudices and surliness and find something of value. The rest of her simply wished he’d never moved to Dry Lake.
Still, she believed that most people had hidden wealth, good things within that made them more worthy than they appeared on the outside. For reasons that had nothing to do with Peter, she had to hold on to that belief. She offered a teacher-friendly smile. “The assignment stands, and it’s due tomorrow. Take your seat, please.”
He slid her well-organized papers onto the floor and crawled onto her desk and sat. At fifteen he was the oldest student she’d ever taught—or tried to teach. He should have graduated sixteen months ago from an Amish school in Ohio, where he’d lived before moving to Dry Lake. Although she had no idea what happened to put him so far behind in his studies, he seemed to think she was the problem.
It would be easier to tap into his better self, or at least better behavior, if there was someone to send him to when he got this bad. During her rumschpringe, her running-around years, she’d used her freedoms to attend public high school. When her public school teachers faced a difficult student like Peter, they sent him to another teacher, a counselor, or a principal. If there was another adult nearby, Peter probably wouldn’t consider it a game to try to take control of her class. Maybe she needed to talk about this situation with her Englischer friend Samantha. Surely with her degree in psychology and her working this year as a school counselor, she would know some helpful tips.
“At your desk, Peter.”
“I’m not doing the work, and I better not get a zero.”
She swallowed and drew a breath, refusing the temptation to scream at him. “You have the right to decide your actions, or maybe a better word is inactions, but you do not have the right to insist on what grade I can give.” Hoping to continue with class, Lena walked around the desk and settled her attention on the first-grade students.
“Who has their penmanship papers done?” Her three first-grade scholars raised their hands. “Good.”
She could feel Peter behind her, seething with anger that had little to do with her. Wondering if she should face him or keep her focus on teaching, she took Marilyn’s spiral-bound notebook in hand and began looking over the young girl’s work. “To your desk, Peter,” she repeated as she made a smiley face at the top of Marilyn’s page. His breath was hot on the back of her neck as he whispered, “You won’t win, so don’t even try.”
The threat unleashed her anger, and suddenly she became its slave. Even while telling herself to ignore him as he was finally making his way toward his desk, she spun around. “You’re a bully, Peter. Do you understand that about yourself ?”
His face and eyes became like stone. “I’ll convince the school board you’re the problem. They’re already whispering behind your back about how to get rid of you. I bet they only hired you because they felt sorry for you. I mean, what else would someone like you do, marry?”
His personal attack caused a storm of insecurities about her looks to rise within. But that aside, she was sure he was wrong about the school board wanting to get rid of her. She’d made one good-sized error they’d not been pleased with, but surely…
He slapped the side of his face really hard and laughed. “Look, I’m making my face blotchy like Teacher Lena’s.” The younger students looked horrified as he mocked her. Some of the older boys laughed, but most were clearly embarrassed for her. Peter kept smacking the side of his face, egging on the class to laugh at his antics.
“Mandy and Rachel,”—Lena looked to the oldest girls in the class— “please take everyone outside for a brief recess.” Peter sat on her desk again, but at least he’d hushed. Smirking, but silent. The room filled with the sounds of desks shifting slightly and the rustle of clothing and soft, padded shoes as her scholars went outside. Willing her irritation to calm, she took several deep breaths and focused her thoughts on what could be accomplished with patience and effort. Good memories of teaching moved into her mind. At twenty-three years old, she’d been teaching for five years, and with only a few exceptions, she’d basked in the fulfillment of it.
Soon her scholars were outside, and the room was quiet. “I don’t want to embarrass you in front of the class, Peter. I only wish you’d show that same respect to me. If you want to color the side of your face to match mine, there are still a few blueberries on the vine out back, but nothing you do to your face will alter the real problem, will it?”
“Not unless you quit.”
“How will getting a new teacher solve anything? Why don’t you try fighting against the part of you that has no regard for your future.”
“I hate this place.” He picked up a book and hurled it across the room. Lena flinched as the text hit the ground, but she forced her voice to remain calm. “I understand that learning doesn’t come easy for you, but I can help you overcome—”
“Learning comes plenty easy,” Peter interrupted. “I just ain’t interested.” She knew he struggled to learn, and maybe Samantha would have some suggestions about this too, but Lena’s best chance of reaching him wouldn’t be found in trying to make him admit to his difficulties. “Why not?”
“What do you care?”
“If I knew why, maybe I could help change how you feel.”
He rolled his eyes. “I don’t want your help. Mamm says I can’t stop coming to school just because of my age, so I just want to pass the eighth grade this time and get out of here.”
“Then do your work. If you’re struggling, I’ll help you.”
“You teachers are all alike. You say that, but…”
Piercing screams of young girls vibrated the room, and Lena moved to the window. Aaron Blank’s mean spirited bull stood mere feet from the ragged fence that separated the pasture from the playground. Elmer, a third-grade student, seemed to be harassing the animal with two eighth grade students egging him on. She hurried past desks and ran outside. The older students banged on the metal gate with their hands while cheering for Elmer. The third grader poked a stick against the angry creature’s face and nose while the younger girls squealed with fear and excitement. Enraged, the Holstein tossed his head back and forth, slinging spit and mucus as it stormed at the stick, coming closer to the fence with each move.
“Boys, stop that right now.” While Lena hurried toward the boys, the older girls left the first and second graders at the swing set and ran toward them as well. Clearly the girls hadn’t been watching this group. Aaron had promised her that he’d fix the fence and keep this bull out of the pasture that bordered the school. Moving to a spot between the angry bull and the students, Lena took the stick from Elmer. She gestured for the children to back up. “Everyone return to the classroom. We’ll discuss this inside.”
As Mandy and Rachel encouraged the others to go inside, Lena turned to look at the bull. The massive creature could easily plow through the pitiful wire fence.
“One would think they’d know better,” she mumbled quietly, taking a few moments of serenity to gather herself. “Why would they do such a thing?” She glanced up to see Peter standing in the doorway, watching her.
He was probably hoping the bull would come through the fence and destroy her. She sighed. I think I’m looking at the source of influence over those other boys. After a quick, silent prayer of thanks for everyone’s safety, she tossed the stick onto the woodpile and headed inside. Her students often hit a baseball or sometimes even a volleyball into this field and went after it. What if someone had done so today while others had that bull riled?
It was time for a lesson in using good sense. Surely even Peter couldn’t keep them from seeing the wisdom of not provoking the bull. But Peter had many of them viewing her with as much disrespect as he did. How she looked had nothing to do with the job in front of her—arming her scholars with skills that would serve them all their lives and keeping them safe while they were in her care.
After school she’d drop off a few of the children at their homes and then do something refreshing before going to see Aaron about keeping that bull away from the schoolhouse. 


As Grey left his barn and crossed the driveway, he smelled supper cooking— probably fried chicken by the aroma of it. Pieces of freshly mowed grass that were almost too small to see were scattered throughout the lawn. The porch and walkways were spotless, and the windows sparkled as the sun moved low on the horizon. A familiar, tainted feeling rose within him as he opened the screen door to his home.
His wife stood beside the oven, scouring a nearby countertop. She glanced at the clock and then to him. “Hey.” Her eyes moved over his clothing, and he knew the quick study of his outfit was to assess just how dirty he was today. She returned to the task in front of her. “Hi.” He set his lunchpail in the sink. “Where’s Ivan?”
“At your Mamm’s.”
He nodded. The light in their five-year-old son’s eyes strengthened Grey. After he removed the plastic containers from his lunchpail, he rinsed them. “Been there all day?”
“Just since he got up from his nap. Supper will be ready by the time you’re showered.” Inside her softly spoken sentence, he’d been dismissed and given respectful instructions to come to the table clean. He needed to bathe and change clothes before the school board meeting anyway, so he went to his bedroom. While working in the cabinetry shop, he’d seen Lena Kauffman drop children off at the Mast house. He’d considered stepping out and speaking to her for a minute to try to get a feel for her side of the complaints the Benders were lodging against her. But if she knew the board was meeting to discuss those criticisms, she’d want to attend. Michael Blank, his father-in-law and the chairman of the school board, had said earlier this week that he intended to discover if the Benders had any real justification for their grumbling before he was willing to share any of the negative talk with Lena. Grey appreciated Michael’s reasoning, but he doubted that Lena would. As a kid she’d had a fierce temper when pushed. It’d been many a year since Grey had seen it, so he was confident that hadn’t played into Michael’s decision.
The memory of Lena’s brother provoking her beyond her control probably still stood out in a lot of people’s memories. Her temper made her an easy target and caused her brother to declare war, so the harassment of Lennie became a full-time game as she was growing up. One time her brother had brought Grey and a group of friends with him on a romp through the woods. Soon enough they’d taken over an abandoned tree house. They were teens, around sixteen years old, and wanted a private place to get away from their parents, a place to talk freely and smoke a cigarette. But the playhouse was Lennie’s, complete with books, papers, and a diary.
She must have heard their voices because she called out to them. When her brother realized she was climbing up the rope ladder, he’d shaken her loose, causing her to fall. Rather than going home, she raged at them while trying to climb the ladder again. Once she’d been dumped again, some of the guys pulled the ladder inside the tree house and dangled her diary and books over the sides. She’d thrown rocks at them, calling out the worst things her ten-year-old mind knew to say—that they all stunk and they looked like old mares. One of the guys began reading from her journal. Lennie’s eyes filled with tears as she screamed for him to stop. Feeling sorry for her, Grey had freed her diary from the tormentors. He tossed it to her, but she kept throwing rocks through the oversized window frames until she pinged her brother a good one.
“Rumschpringe teens.” Grey sighed. It was amazing the Amish community hadn’t imploded from the turmoil they caused.
The dimness of the fading day settled over the quiet space as he entered the bedroom. Beige sheers fluttered gently in the late September breeze. The bedspread was tucked crisp and perfect with the pillows adjusted just so, and not one item sat on the top of his dresser. He moved into the bathroom and turned on the shower. His razors. His toothbrush. His shaving cream. His combs. All lined up perfectly on a rectangularpiece of white linen. Plush, clean towels were stacked neatly on a shelf. He grabbed one, hung it on the peg near the shower stall and peeled out of his clothes. Feeling tempted for a moment to leave his stuff on the floor, he mumbled to himself to grow up. Elsie wouldn’t say a word. Conversations didn’t pass the threshold of the bedroom. Ever.
As the hot water and soap rinsed the day’s grime from his body, he wondered if she ever missed him. The discomfort of the thought drained his energy. For too long he’d searched his mind and heart for answers. At twenty-eight he no longer had much youthful nonsense in him. He tried to think and act like a considerate man, but whatever was wrong lay outside his grasp to understand. Was it his fault? Was it hers? He didn’t know, and sometimes he was so weary he didn’t care. But giving up would only break them worse.
Sing for me, Grey.
The memory haunted him. How long had it been since she’d wanted him to sing for her? He turned off the shower and grabbed his towel. He knew of only one possible answer for their marriage—an avenue that might bring relief—but he’d have to be willing to publicly embarrass her and himself to pursue it. There had to be another way to find answers.



Deborah closed her eyes, trying to block out a reality she could not yet welcome. Heat from the gas-powered stove continued to pour into the kitchen as it had since before daylight. The orders for baked goods were almost done for the day. With her eyelids shut tight, she tried to still the fresh ache.
Not one breath of air came through the open windows or screen door. Still. Dry. Unmoving. Exactly like her life. He’d left. Not only the faith. And his friends. And his mother, Ada. But her.
Three months ago. Some days she could feel beyond the blackness and laugh again. But now was not one of them, not after receiving a note from him in today’s mail. He hadn’t actually written to her as much as sent money along with a scribbled apology. His admission of regret only stirred hurt and anger. He wasn’t coming back. She wanted to burn the cash he’d sent. But how could she? She and his mother needed money. Badly.
The Amish community would help her and Ada if they knew of their plight. She and Ada had discussed telling their people, but now they couldn’t accept anyone’s hard-earned money since Mahlon had sent cash. She might not be able to make herself burn it, but she wouldn’t use it. And when she told Ada about the gift, Ada would agree that they couldn’t use it. They were on their own now. Truth was, in ways they’d not realized until after Mahlon left, they’d been on their own for a really long time. She slid her hand inside her hidden pocket, feeling the envelope thick with twenties. Once again, Mahlon had made life harder for her and his mother.
Drawing a deep breath, she opened her eyes, grabbed the bowl of frosting, and scraped up the last dollop of it and dropped it onto the cake. The kitchen door swung open, and Cara waltzed into the room, her Amish dress spattered with paint and much of her short hair coming loose from its stubby ponytail and sticking out around her prayer Kapp. The young woman carried the confidence of being happy and loved, making Deborah wonder if she’d ever feel that way again. Deborah’s brother Ephraim was thirty-two when he found love for the first time in his life. And even though he broke up with Deborah’s closest friend in order to pursue the Englischer girl, Deborah had grown to love Cara too. Cara glanced through the screen door, and Deborah knew she was checking on her daughter. “You about done?” She grabbed an apple out of the refrigerator, walking and talking much like the Bronx-raised Englischer she was. Or rather was until recently. Deborah motioned at the load of dishes in the sink. “No. You?”
“For the day, yes. Though I’ll never be done painting as long as the little elves keep building onto this old house each night while we sleep. Do you know how long it takes to paint the inside of a two-foot-wide, nine foot- deep space? What did they do with a room like that in the eighteen hundreds? Show it to relatives as a guest bedroom? It’d keep down on guests, right?”
Cara’s nonsense made Deborah smile, and she longed to be free to enjoy her days again.
Cara took a bite of apple and sat on the countertop. “Is Ada out purchasing ingredients for tomorrow’s baking orders?”
“If I help you finish up, will you go to Dry Lake with me?” Wondering whether to tell Cara she’d received a note from Mahlon, Deborah continued smoothing the frosting over the cake. Cara finished her apple and then tossed it across the room and into the trash can. “Hellooooo?” She dipped her finger into the bowl and scraped some frosting off the side.
Cara licked her finger, hopped off the counter, and fixed herself a glass of water. “You made two of those cakes?” “Ya. It’s a new recipe, and I’m taking one by Select Bakery and one by Sweet Delights as a sample of a new item on our list.”
Cara moved next to Deborah and nudged her shoulder against Deborah’s. “It’s one of those really bad days, huh?” Deborah’s eyes stung with tears, but she didn’t respond.
“I expect grief will come and go for a while, but any idea why you’re feeling smothered by it today?”
Deborah pulled the envelope from her pocket and held it up. “Mahlon,” she whispered. Cara’s eyes grew large with concern. “Oh no.” Her words came out slowly. “Deborah, I…I’m sorry.” Cara pulled Deborah into a hug. The tone of Cara’s voice and the warmth of her understanding surrounded her like no one else’s could. Cara knew loss and imprisonment of circumstances a thousand times greater than Deborah did. Cara placed her hands on Deborah’s shoulders. “Do you want to share what he said?”
It seemed a little odd how careful Cara was being with her words. Then again, maybe she thought Mahlon wrote to say he was coming back so she was withholding what she’d like to call him. Deborah passed her the envelope.
Cara pulled out the note and cash. She ignored the money and read the message. “Dearest Deborah, I hope you are well. I’m so very, very sorry for the pain I’ve caused you and Mamm. Please allow me to ease my guilt by helping you financially. Mahlon.” Cara rolled her eyes, but she said nothing. The note sounded just as detached as Mahlon had been in the weeks leading up to his disappearance. Hearing it aloud brought back so many memories, and Deborah felt stupid for not seeing the obvious until he humiliated her in front of everyone. Cara replaced the money and note in the envelope. She again hugged Deborah and stayed there. The pain didn’t ease, but hope trickled in.
“Patience, Deb,” Cara whispered. “Just keep muddling through. The pain always fades at some point.”
Deborah swallowed and tried to pull strength from somewhere inside her. She took a step back. “Denki.”
The back door swung open, and Lori ran inside with muddy hands and an even muddier dog. “Better Days!” Cara grabbed the dog by the collar. “Out.”
“Mom, you’ll hurt his feelings.”
“He’ll survive.” She shoved the dog outside and closed the screen door. “Although you may not. What have you been doing?”
“Mississippi mud cakes. Want to try one?”
Cara glanced apologetically to Deborah and shrugged. “It’s probably as good as the frosting Deborah just made.”
“Really, Mom?” Lori’s dark brown eyes reflected excitement.
“Afraid so.”
“What?” Deborah scraped frosting off the knife with her finger and tasted the fluffy stuff. “Oh, yuck!” She snatched the cake off the counter and slammed it into the trash can. “What on earth happened?” She grabbed the second cake stand and headed for the can. Cara took hold of the sides of the stand. “What are you doing?”
“Tossing it out.”
“You’re going to let a perfectly gorgeous cake go to waste when we could use it to trick someone?”
As if rust had broken from Deborah’s face, she smiled freely and released the stand. Cara set it on the counter. “I vote we give it to Ephraim.”
“Maybe. Did you know that my good friend Lena has long been considered the queen of pranks?”
“The schoolteacher in Dry Lake?”
Deborah nodded. “Remember the van wreck Ephraim told you about? The one our mother died in?”
“Lena’s mother was killed too, and Ada’s husband, and seven others from the community, including your Daadi—your grandfather. It was awful for months. Anyway, Lena—who was about eleven by then, I think—had been looking for some way to make people smile again, especially her Daed. While in Philadelphia with an aunt, she found a plastic thing that looked just like a little pat of butter at a gag store. Her Daed never ate his biscuit or peas until the butter he’d put on them had melted. According to Lena, she put two hot buttered biscuits on his plate. He opened a biscuit and saw the little pat of butter, closed it, and waited for it to melt. Between getting other foods, sipping on his drink, and chatting, he checked the biscuit several times over the next five or six minutes. Finally he poked the butter, asking why it hadn’t melted. When he touched it and realized it was plastic, he broke into an uproar of laughter. She said he laughed until tears rolled down his cheeks. There’s been no stopping her since…except she hasn’t pulled anything on me since Mahlon left.” “Then Lena it is.”
“She hasn’t been stumped or tricked in years. I’m not sure she’ll fall for it.”
“She might this time. It won’t be expected.” Cara dusted flour from Deborah’s black apron. “An unspoken truce was called the day Mahlon left. She wouldn’t dream of you pulling this on purpose. If we handle it right and slice a piece for her while we visit, she’ll probably eat nearly a whole slice, just to be nice.”
“You know, I fear for my brother sometimes.” Deborah giggled, feeling sadness loosen its death grip.
Cara’s laughter came from a spring of contentment within her, and Deborah enjoyed a refreshing sip. Cara wasn’t even close to being someone Deborah would have chosen for her brother. She’d been raised as an Englischer in foster care and often struggled to accept the Plain ways. She behaved like a sharp-tongued heathen sometimes without even realizing it, but as odd as it seemed, Ephraim respected her deeply. The longer Deborah knew her, the more she understood why her brother had finally fallen in love.
Deborah smoothed Cara’s hair back and tried to pin the short strands where they’d stay under the prayer Kapp. It was no use. Cara tucked a strand behind her ear. “Since no one’s pulled a prank since Jerk Face left, I say it’s time to end the truce.”
“Mom, Ephraim won’t like that you’re calling names. Who’s Jerk Face, anyway?”
“It doesn’t matter.” Cara turned to Deborah. “Does it?”
Deborah took a cleansing breath. “No, it…he doesn’t.”
They both knew it wasn’t true. Not yet. Maybe not ever.
Cara mocked a frown. “What’d you do wrong to make that frosting taste so bad?”
“I don’t know. Is the cake itself just as bad?”
They moved to the tossed-out cake. Cara jabbed a fork in the very center of it, where it hadn’t touched any part of the trash can. She took a tiny nibble and shuddered. “It’s both frosting and cake.” “So what’d I do?”
Cara made a face. “Salt.”
“Too much salt?” Deborah glanced to her work station. “How did I manage that?”
Cara shrugged. Trying to recall what she’d done, Deborah went to the canisters and opened the one that said sugar. If she’d been paying any attention, she’d have realized that it held salt. Lori had filled them for her earlier today, but when? How many items had she made using salt instead of sugar?
“Lori,” Deborah spoke softly, “when did you refill these canisters?”
“No, honey, I mean when today?”
Cara put her finger into the canister and then licked it. “Yep, that’s salt.”
Lori shrugged. “Did I do something wrong?”
Cara placed her hand on Lori’s head. “Nothing that another lesson with Ada about being a good kitchen helper won’t fix. Besides, seven-year olds are supposed to make cute mistakes. It’s part of your job description. Did you fill the canisters before or after school?”
“After. I did it when Deborah left to get the mail.”
Deborah sighed. “And then Deborah read her note and sank onto the porch steps in a state of depression before eventually making her way back into the kitchen in a complete cloud of confusion.”
“And she began talking about herself in third person too.” Cara winked at her. “Lori, honey, why don’t you go upstairs and get cleaned up while Deborah and I tackle this kitchen mess and start making a quick supper? Ada will be back soon, and then we’ll eat.”
Lori headed out of the kitchen, and soon the sound of her tromping up the steps echoed through the quiet home. Deborah grabbed a few dirty utensils off the cabinet and tossed them into the sink. “Ingredients in the wrong canister or not, I should have recognized the difference between salt and sugar.”
“It’s not a big deal, Deb.”
She rinsed her hands and dried them. “Ya, it is. Money’s even tighter than you know. Ada doesn’t want to talk about it, but she’s making deliveries to all three bakeries because we can’t afford to hire a driver. Hitching and unhitching the horse and wagon, along with her making the deliveries every day, cuts into our baking time, so our workday is getting longer and longer, but we’ve got fewer goods to sell.”
“I thought the bakeries paid for the courier.”
“They did…sort of. I mean they were taking money out of our profit to pay for them, so Ada’s getting that money, and we’re making the deliveries ourselves. Lately she has to wait until we make a few bucks off what we sold in order to buy supplies for the next round of baking.”
“So”—Cara shrugged—“Jerk Face sent you money today. Use it.”
“I’ll starve first.” Deborah couldn’t believe her own tone as she spoke—or the determination she felt.
“Your brother wouldn’t like that plan.”
“You cannot tell Ephraim.” She motioned to the six-foot stainless steel commercial oven.
“He’s already done too much for us. This place was unlivable until he gave so generously.”
“I…I didn’t realize he was the one…”
“Well he was. A few others pitched in a little, but in this economy there are too many in our community who are hurting. I can’t ask them for help when Mahlon sent us money. Ada and I will have to succeed…or fail…on our own.”

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Reading Group Guide

The following question correlate to Cindy Woodsmall's best-selling novel, The Bridge of Peace. Use them in a small group or for your own reflection about the many themes of the book.

SPOILER ALERT! If you haven't read the novel yet, and want to retain the element of suprise as the story unfolds, we highly recommend that you do not read the reading guide questions.


Lena believes that many people have hidden wealth within that makes them more worthy than they appear on the outside—even Peter, the student who mocks her physical appearance. Do you know someone who seems unlovable? How can you find the treasure that God sees inside that person? In what ways can you reach out to people whose actions and behaviors irritate you? How can you help those who don’t respond positively to your attempts?

2. After six years of marriage, Grey and Elsie go about their daily lives without speaking about the hurts of the past that emotionally strangle them. She feels incapable of expressing her emotions and afraid of revealing her deepest fear. She is reluctant to share their problems with anyone. Do you think Grey should have taken the steps to get the needed help even if his wife didn’t want to?

3. When Elsie finally tells Grey what’s been bothering her, it’s not any of the reasons he expected. Have you ever spent a lot of time and energy trying to figure out what someone else was thinking? Has anyone ever misunderstood your motives for something? What might have been salvaged if the truth had been revealed and discussed sooner?

4. Cara doesn’t understand why the Amish ban on working Sundays includes her doing some lawn mowing in exchange for a gift for her daughter, especially since boys are allowed to play sports and women can fix meals. She is also distressed that someone “tattled” on her. Though she disagrees with the line the church leaders draw, she submits to their authority … until she discovers that the rules prevent her daughter from enjoying the gift that meant so much to her. If you disagreed with instructions or guidance from an authority in your life, how would you handle the situation? At what point does accountability start to feel intrusive?

5. A death within the Dry Lake community affects everyone differently. Ephraim realizes that his reaction to death is different now that he has Cara in his life. Aaron blames himself for his part in the incident. Another character is paralyzed by self-accusations and remorse. How does the thought of losing someone close to you make you feel about the life you’re living and the relationships you have? Are there any divisions you want to try to mend or words you want to say while there’s still time?

6. Cara continually struggles to understand and accept the Amish ways, though she’s committed to do so for Lori’s and Ephraim’s sakes. When is it appropriate to adjust your ways for someone else, and when is it better to accept yourself the way you are?

7. When Gray chooses to burn the envelope with the DNA test results without looking at them, he says, “I choose to be free of all that we didn’t handle right.” What past wrongs are you holding on to? Are you ready to choose to be free of them?


Mahlon returns to Dry Lake and tells Deborah he loves her. This is what she’d ached for, for a long time. Is there something you want deeply, have even prayed for intensely, but you haven’t received the answer you desire? How do you know when to accept an unanswered prayer and when to keep fighting for your desires?


Lena doesn’t believe anyone is capable of seeing beyond her birthmark to who she really is, because she sees everything in her life as being related to her birthmark. If Lena were your friend, what would you say to her?


Lena ignored the school board’s mandate and arranged for Peter to see a grief counselor. Do you agree with her decision? What do you think she could have done differently?

11. Grey begins building a bridge between his home and Lena’s brother’s home. Why do you think he purposely didn’t finish it himself? Do you agree with his line of thinking?


What aspects of the Amish life appeal to you? What restrictions would you have a hard time living with? Can you think of ways to simplify your daily life or enhance your special occasions by making them a bit more like the Amish?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 60 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 61 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 16, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    a wonderful refreshing contemporary novel

    All her young life, her birthmark on her cheek has been the talk of the Amish community where Lena Kauffman was raised. Over time she learned to ignore the stares. Currently, she teaches at an Amish School in Dry Lake that demands strict adherence to the "old ways".

    Lena has problems with the board's inability to bend for the better good of the students. She especially has problems with a troubled pupil, fifteen year old recently transferred Peter; who is the oldest and tallest student she ever had. She turns to her Englischer friend Samantha a school counselor for help. This alienates the school board who blames her and her new ways of teaching for her student's rebellion of authority. However school board member Grey Graber commiserates with his lifelong friend the beleaguered teacher and her mutinous student as he feels trapped too in a marriage with a wife Elsie who kicked him out of her life.

    The second Ada's House Amish romance (see The Hope of Refuge) is a wonderful refreshing contemporary that makes a strong case that the Plain People have psychological problems just like the English do. The lead couple, his wife and her student is fully developed characters with emotional baggage and issues as Cindy Woodsmall provides a strong fresh tale bolstered by a profound underlying statement that faith helps, but does not necessarily relieve personal concerns.

    Harriet Klausner

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2013


    Cindy Woodsmall never disappoints. Wonderful story (again).

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2013

    Highly Recommended - you must check it out!!

    terriffic book

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  • Posted June 4, 2013

    Another excellent read by Cindy Woodsmall. I have read many Amis

    Another excellent read by Cindy Woodsmall. I have read many Amish stories but none like this. Lena's humor, positive attitude toward the children she interacts with is refreshing.Her problems with the school board very irritating. The hatred by Peter's brothered and the resulting events had me once again rivereted to the story to find the outcome...Will Lena survive? Back to my nook to find out!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2013


    Not my favorite amish series because these seem so unrealistic, but they do provide an entertsining storyline. And they're nice and long providing good bang for your buck!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2013

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  • Posted November 1, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    great series

    ive been reading all the books by cindy woodsmall and i find
    them very entertaining and i cant wait til she writes more

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2011

    highly recommended

    I just finished all three Ada's House stories and I loved all three - They are so well written and give such wonderful insight into the Amish World

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  • Posted April 27, 2011

    Good book

    I was only going to read a few pages and go to bed. I ended up reading the whole book. It just drew me in and before I knew it I was done. It is book two in a series. I didn't read the first book and I think it would have been better reading them in order. But it stands alone very well. I'm going to reading more of Cindy Woodsmall in the future. I really enjoyed The Bridge of Peace.

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  • Posted April 26, 2011

    Good Book

    The Bridge of Peace is a book that takes place in an Amish community. Your taken inside the lives of several people, all going through their own struggles in life. Love, hatred, insecurity, and hurt are unseen by those around them. After many trials, and even death, will they finally have peace in their lives?

    I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I had always been skeptical of Amish books, particularly Amish romance. But this book pulled me in, and had me on the edge of my seat on more than one occasion. It was heart wrenching at some points. I loved the different point of views from the characters in the story. I also learned so much more about the Amish culture that I hadn't known before. I would recommend this book to any young adult or adult. I'm already starting on my next Amish book!

    I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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  • Posted April 25, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Average but good regard regardless

    I'm not going to summarize this since BN already did. My thoughts: I didn't realize when I got this book that it was the second book in the series. I think having read the first book would have helped me a little in knowing the characters, especially Lena, but overall I was able to read and enjoy it without having read the first book in the series. (Also, there's a glossary of who's who, which helped me in the beginning and throughout the book.) This is the second book by Woodsmall I've read (the first is When the Heart Cries) and I really enjoyed it. I think a lot of my comments about these two books are the same: while this book has a firm foundation of faith (it's about the Amish, after all!), it's not an overtly religious book, and it's not a deeply literary novel, either. As far as Amish books go, it's not especially original, but that didn't bother me because my expectations were appropriately met based on the other Woodsmall book I've read. I liked the characters, I thought the plot was plausible enough, and I was left intrigued enough to want to read both the first and third books in the series. My biggest problem with these books is that the covers depict all of these Amish women being beautiful. I think that's a little off-kilter for books that are supposed to be geared at a woman's insides, not her physical beauty. Overall, I would rank this book as average (I've read much better but I've also read much, much, much worse!), and in this case, average is good enough.

    (I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. I was asked to review this book fairly based on my own opinions and not asked to make a positive review in return for receiving the book, only an honest one.)

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  • Posted April 23, 2011


    THE BRIDGE OF PEACE by Cindy Woodstock is an interesting and amazing inspirational Amish fiction set in present day Amish country. It it the second in "THE ADA HOUSE SERIES",Book One, "Hope of Refuge",but can be read as a stand alone.It is well written with depth and details.It is about an Amish young women,Lena,,who is a teacher and has a birthmark on her cheek. She has endured ridicule,humiliation,and talk behind her back.She only wants a family of her own her,to teach school,find love and happiness.Grey,her long time friend,has problems of his own with his marriage,a son who has a handicap,a wife who has gone cold in their marriage and dealing with how to bring his marriage to what it used to be. While Lena is dealing with rambunctious children,and a school board she has defiled their word.She believes her students should be able to learn. Then a tragic accident happens,leaving a wife dead,a husband and a student full of guilt,the school board furious with Lena,someone is not only trying to discredit Lena but is also planning to get rid of her.While Lena and Grey are finding their way ,they find they are not only facing deception,but Lena is facing danger,she isn't even aware of,and they are fighting their own feelings. They will have to build a bridge of peace to survive.This story is of love,faith,deception,redemption forgiveness, and the power of second chances. This is a fast paced story of the Amish faith and their power of moving forward.If you enjoy Amish,romance,faith,a little mystery you will enjoy this one.A great read. This book was received for the purpose of review from the publisher and details can be found at WaterBrook Press,Multnomah and My Book Addiction Reviews.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 7, 2011

    Much better than expected

    It took me awhile to get into this story mainly because I was so confused at all the character names being thrown at me from the very beginning. Only later did I realize that The Bridge of Peace is the second in a series and that also there is a handy little character glossary in the back of the book. Once I was able to get into the story and get a grip on who each of the characters were, I really started to enjoy the plot. By the end of the novel I surprised myself with how much I actually was enjoying it and couldn't put it down until I had finished it completely.

    The novel is not mainly about one Amish school teacher as I had previously thought given the description; it is about a whole community of Amish people and all of the complicated relationships that go into a tight-knit community such as this one. Because of this storyline, Woodsmall was able to delve into all of the interesting parts of human emotion: hope, despair, love, friendship, hatred, even psychopathy.

    This was a great "feel good" novel. One that brought me up, down, and back up again. I can't wait to go back and read The Hope of Refuge and then to read the third in the series when it comes out this fall

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2011

    We all need a Bridge of Peace

    I really loved this book and would highly recommend it, especially those who like to read about the Amish way of life. I think we can relate to these people because although they live with Amish rules, I think we all feel sometimes burdened by rules of society. Lena feels so insecure of herself because of the birthmark on her face. She feels no one will ever love her. Because of that she puts all of her energy into teaching. Sometimes she crosses the line of the Old Ways and gets herself into trouble with the school board and parents. There is heartache, tragedy and deceit among many people within this community. Will they be able to heal? Will they find love? Will they be able to cross that bridge and find peace?

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  • Posted March 29, 2011

    Wonderful Storyline, a must read!

    This was my first CIndy Woodsmall book, and certainly not my last. I can't wait to read the next in the serious. I enjoyed reading about each character, and was surprised at the twist & turns within the story. A wonderful suspense, and romance packed book sure to delight readers of all ages.

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  • Posted March 29, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Enjoyed reading, look forward to #3 in series

    Tuesday, March 29, 2011
    Book reivew: The Bridge of Peace

    I have finished my first book by author Cindy Woodsmall The Bridge of Peace. This is the second book in the Ada's House series.

    Lena Kauffman is a young school teacher who faces many challenges from a troubled, rebellious student. She gets into trouble with the school board when she makes some decisions that aren't in accord with the Old Ways. Lena feels she will never marry because she doesn't think men can see past the birthmark on her face.

    School board member Grey Graber and his wife Elsie have a troubled marriage. They begin making steps of progress when tragedy strikes.

    This is a very enjoyable book that I would recommend to you. I look forward to reading #3 in this series. This book was provided to me for my honest review by the "Blogging for Books" reviewer program with WaterBrook Multonomah.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 14, 2011

    Great book!!

    This was a great book. I've been reading this authors books since her first series.

    This is the second book in the Ada House Series. I really enjoyed reading this book.

    The main character, Lena, has a great personality ever though she has always been made fun of for her very noticeable birthmark. She is an old order Amish school teacher who is challenged by a rebellious young man and has to deal with several crises that threaten her other students.

    Grey Graber, on of the school board members, feels trapped by his own circumstances. His wife has shut him out of her life after a miscarriage. Has the two of them finally start to work things out there is a tragic accident.

    Grey and Lena have been friends all their lives, but their friendship starts turning into something more.

    This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 14, 2011

    Great Story

    The Bridge of Peace by Cindy Woodsmall, is an Old Order Amish story that is a continuation in a series. I did not have the opportunity to read the first book in the series, however, it was not necessary to understand the plot of this story. I always admire that in books, to be able to pick up a new title and not question things that have already occurred.
    There were many characters in this story and I had to continually look to see how they were related in the back of the book, but each character was developed very well. I found that there were characters I was more excited to read about than others in the story, which I always enjoy having favorites. I enjoyed the story line also, however, it did take a bit to get into the book. The last 100 pages though were very good and kept my interest.
    I enjoyed the obstacles that had to be overcome in order for the characters to develop into whom they were written to be. I can anticipate which characters are going to be emphasized in the next story, and I am looking forward to the opportunity to read it.

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  • Posted March 10, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Highly Reccomended, You must check it out!

    This book centers around four people: Lena, Deborah, Grey, and Cara. All of them are taking life's problem's one at a time. Lena, the Amish schoolteacher, has to deal with a birthmark on her face, and her rejection from both Grey and the School-board. Deborah has to try and rid herself of grievances against her fiance, who abandoned her. Cara tries so hard to fit in to the foreign Amish culture, and always feels that she can't do enough right. Grey struggles with a marriage filled with hurt, loneliness, and miserableness, yet tries to act as if nothing is wrong. Climaxing when Lena's life is in danger, this book's plot is somewhat predictable, but still written well. I enjoyed the book quite thoroughly, except for an occasional hear-shattering part. This book enlightens readers to a new view of the strict Amish community, and also, it causes you to fall in love with the Amish. I have always enjoyed books about the Amish, and I think this one turned out well. The resolution was a happy one, which is EXTREMELY important to me. One thing the author did that impressed me, was that she made sure not to make beloved characters die, even though a few others do. There was rarely a dull moment, and the captivating plot keeps one awake long hours into the night. I overall enjoyed this book, and I certainly hope you will go and buy it, because it is a GREAT book!

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  • Posted March 8, 2011

    Great read!

    It has drama, romance, happiness, sadness, everything you get in real life, but as fiction. Its wonderful to see the author use the Old Ways in her writing that so many people can get the feel that they're actually part of the book while they're reading it. I'm looking forward to seeing book 3 on here this fall! I'm going to try and find The Hope of Refuge at the library so I can make sure I know all the characters. Well wrote!!

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