The Bargain: A Novel

( 11 )

Overview

It’s 1971, and Betsie Troyer’s peaceful and predictable life is about to become anything but.

When their parents flee the Amish, nineteen-year-old Betsie and her seventeen-year-old sister Sadie are distraught. Under the dubious guidance of a doting aunt, the girls struggle to keep the secret, praying their parents will return before anyone learns the truth—a truth that may end all hopes of Betsie’s marriage to Charley Yoder.

Worse still, Betsie...

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The Bargain: A Novel

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Overview

It’s 1971, and Betsie Troyer’s peaceful and predictable life is about to become anything but.

When their parents flee the Amish, nineteen-year-old Betsie and her seventeen-year-old sister Sadie are distraught. Under the dubious guidance of a doting aunt, the girls struggle to keep the secret, praying their parents will return before anyone learns the truth—a truth that may end all hopes of Betsie’s marriage to Charley Yoder.

Worse still, Betsie must learn a trade while she boards with a dysfunctional Englisher family: Sheila, a twelve-year-old desperately searching for a friend and in dire need of her mother; the free-spirited mother, who runs off to "find herself" on the stage; the angry father whose structured life crumbles; and Michael, a troubled college dropout nearly killed in the Kent State Massacre.

Thrust into the English world, Betsie must grapple with the realities of war and miniskirts, pot parties and police brutality, protests and desertion. Can she help the Sullivan family and find peace in her new surroundings, or must she forget the bargain she made and seek refuge back in Plain City with protective and reliable Charley?

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Editorial Reviews

CBA Retailers and Resources - Jennifer Fleming
"This was an interesting read that left me wanting to know more about the Amish, and each character's search for Go inspired me to strengthen my own relationship with Him."
E. E. Kennedy
“An exciting, involving novel, sensitively rendered. . . . This is clearly the first novel in a series and not all the plot strings are tied up at the end. Readers are left wanting to know more about these people we’ve come to care about.”
Susan Marlow
"Stephanie Reed does a superb job of sprinkling humor throughout a story with a serious theme. Best of all? This is Book 1, with more to follow. Hurray! "
Janalyn Voigt
“The Bargain examines a troubled time in American history—the year following the Kent State massacre—through the eyes of a young Amish girl. With deep character portrayals and a masterful plot, this life-affirming book raises as many questions as it answers. Well done!”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780825442155
  • Publisher: Kregel Publications
  • Publication date: 10/1/2013
  • Series: Plain City Peace
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 784,012
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephanie Reed lives on the outskirts of Plain City, Ohio, site of a once-thriving Amish community. She gleans ideas for her novels from signs glimpsed along the byways of Ohio, as she did for her previous books, Across the Wide River and The Light Across the River. The Bachelor is the second book in the Plain City Peace series.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 11 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2014

    Disappointing

    The lead character is portrayed as unrealistically naive, tge ending was unsatisfying

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  • Posted December 30, 2013

     This book certainly held my attention. I have read many works o

     This book certainly held my attention. I have read many works of Amish fiction and this one was quite different as the Amish parents left their family.   I was quite surprised (shocked, actually) that Amish parents would leave their two young adult daughters and their young son to join the English world.  Betsie is forced to keep this a secret from everyone in the Amish community and her English employers.  I felt deeply for this young woman and her struggle to honor her parents, keep her Amish faith, and still do what is right. 
     I appreciated the accurate portrayal of the Kent State Massacre in the early 1970's.  Michael is dealing with PTSD due to being a part of the Kent State Massacre on the college campus.   Stephanie Reed deals with many issues in her book.   The English mom is also struggling to "find herself" and leaves her home and family too.   Many people seem to think the Amish have no problems and I like the fact that Stephanie Reed portrays them as human beings with all the same struggles and emotions that we all feel from time to time.   I will be anxiously awaiting the release of Book Two in this series.
    I received a free pdf copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review.

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  • Posted November 18, 2013

    3.5/4 stars Stephanie Reed has penned an Amish novel with an unu

    3.5/4 stars
    Stephanie Reed has penned an Amish novel with an unusual twist and the resulting juxtaposition of cultures and personalities is as colorful as a tie-dyed shirt from the era in which the book is set.

    Betsie Troyer's steady and predictable way of life is turned upside down in 1971 when her parents quietly decide to leave the Amish community and become followers of Christ. Heartbroken and trying to maintain the facade that her parents are on an extended trip to visit relatives, Betsie must also fulfill an apprenticeship in her cousin's stead to an English harness-making family in a nearby community. (Her cousin is fulfilling his draft commitment at an army hospital in Chicago during the Viet Nam War.) Her determination to keep the English family at arm's length wavers as her heart is drawn to 11-year-old Sheila, who desperately needs a friend and whose mother is more concerned about making a big break in Hollywood than she is caring for her family. Sheila's older brother, Michael, is an enigma--at times friendly and other times brooding and sullen, with occasional eruptions into shouting matches with his dad. Betsie determines to bring some peace to this family, all the while wishing her own fractured family would heal. She must convince her parents to come home before the bishop finds out what they've done. If they don't, will she still be able to marry Charley Troyer?

    Set in the troubled and contentious times of the Viet Nam War and following events such as the Kent State shootings, The Bargain portrays the struggles of both Amish and English families in such a pivotal era. Written primarily from Betsie's point of view with occasional changes to Michael's viewpoint, Reed keeps the pace moving. Betsie's efforts to mend Michael's "hippie" clothes provide some amusing moments as cultures collide. Somehow they manage to forge a friendship in spite of--or maybe because of--their differences; it's not certain who stands to benefit and grow the most. Betsie's parents' defection and their faith journey provide a fresh perspective, making this book stand out from other more typical Amish novels.

    Readers who prefer stand-alone stories should be prepared that this is book one of the Plain City Peace series and as such, not all the threads are up in a bow at the novel's conclusion. Neither the title nor the timing of book two's release has been announced yet.

    (The Wordsmith Journal strives to guide readers to books of personal interest, with the understanding and respect that what appeals to some may not appeal to others. Therefore we attempt to keep our reviews focused on content, genre and style. The rating is necessary to make use of Goodreads and Amazon. It reflects the reviewer’s own level of enjoyment, but the review is intended to be informative for the benefit of all readers.)

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  • Posted November 17, 2013

    I am an incredible fan of Amish fiction, but I do hold it to a s

    I am an incredible fan of Amish fiction, but I do hold it to a somewhat high standard. While I may jump at the chance to review an Amish fiction book, I do expect the story to be well-written, and the Christian message needs to be clear. I do not intend to read the same story over and over again. I am somewhat reticent when reading an author is new to me in the genre, and sometimes I am disappointed.




    Not so with Stephanie Reed! I have never read a historical Amish fiction book, but I think that is the best way to describe this. I was even more pleased to read that the author had loosely based this story on a real life person. There is nothing better than that! The story was well-written, and she always kept the reader guessing as to what the next step in the story might be. She even left the story somewhat open-ended at the conclusion which leaves the option of a sequel (I hope so!). I have never read a story of someone leaving the Amish, and I was amazed to read about some of the more disconcerting beliefs associated with this faith. 




    The Christian message is strong in this novel. I have never seen potential fallacies of Amish belief stated so clearly in a book, and it truly made me realize that although I could never be Amish because of lifestyle, I don't think I could ever espouse their belief system. I also realize and accept the fact that it does depend on the Amish community as to what exactly is believed. Regardless, the Amish people tend to be way too legalistic for me, and that was true back in the 1970's, too.




    I recommend this very different kind of Amish book to my readers. It is an easy read, and I believe it will make you consider your own faith, belief system, and what is truly important in this world.




    I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I was not financially compensated, and all opinions are 100 percent mine.

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  • Posted October 28, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Betsie is overwhelmed by the changes in her life.  Her parents h

    Betsie is overwhelmed by the changes in her life.  Her parents have decided to leave the Amish community and she is to start training for a new job.  On top of all of this, in the current year of 1971 the country is at war in Vietnam and are drafting young men even from the Amish community.  The sorrow of being alone without her parents is breaking her heart. Thankfully her sister is still living at home and they will continue run the farm along with the help of heir and love of her heart Charley Yoder. 

    The stress of the war was enough to keep one stressed out I could not imagine my parents not being around to give me a since of security at such a time. The character Betsie was a strong young women taking on the sorrows and problems of the world around her.  She may not have gone to war but she battled a war on the home front trying to keep her family together and also an English family she had come to care for. 

    The author has written a heartbreaking reality tale of love and war within oneself. She also writes of how the Amish perceive the Englishers religion and visa versa.  

    I was not ready for the book to end wanting to know more about the characters.  Looking forward to reading more from this author.

    I highly recommend this book.

    Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from Kregel Publishing/Litfuse Publicity Group for review.  I was in no way compensated for this review. This is my honest opinion.

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  • Posted October 26, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    In The Bargain, Stephanie Reed has written a different type of A

    In The Bargain, Stephanie Reed has written a different type of Amish fiction, one where the main character is placed in the English world, living with a dysfunctional family and working in a harness shop. Opposites in both character personalities and cultures make for an interesting read.

    The story is set against the backdrop of the Vietnam years. Having been a graduate school student in 1971, I can vividly recall the unrest, tension and heartbreak of that era and I think Stephanie did an excellent job creating a realistic feel of the time.

    Betsie is struggling to deal with her parents' leaving the Amish church in order to become followers of Christ, and Stephanie brings out an element of the Amish faith that is often hidden in fiction. Betsie reflects: "Joining the Amish church and keeping every rule in the Ordnung, that was the surest way to maybe go to heaven someday. . . . But even the Amish couldn't know which place they were going to end up in until they stood in front of the good Lord Himself and He revealed it. It was prideful to believe otherwise." But Betsie's parents had read the Scriptures for themselves and sought freedom in Christ. Betsie's Dat wants her to understand why they made the decision to leave and to come with them. "Do you want to know what true wickedness is?" he asks. "It's teaching people that they can't be sure of their salvation before their time on this earth is up."

    Michael, a college dropout, is a troubled young man, greatly affected by the Kent State shootings on a day when he was walking to class. "They died, but I'm still here. And I don't understand why. Because apparently I escaped death solely so I could be drafted and sent to Vietnam to die." Betsie and Michael gradually form a friendship, maybe because they each sense a need in the other. And I loved the humor in the scene where Betsie uses her sewing skills to "repair" Michael's torn hippie jeans.

    I'm not always a fan of storylines where an Amish character is thrust into the English world, but Stephanie did a good job at creating an unusual story that goes beyond traditional Amish fiction. She also gives some deep and thought-provoking questions at the end, perfect for group discussion.

    The Bargain is the first book in the Plain City Peace series - and while it reaches a satisfactory conclusion, it's obvious there is much more to come. I believe fans of Amish fiction will enjoy this novel.

    This book was provided by Litfuse Publicity and Kregel Publications in exchange for my honest review.

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  • Posted October 17, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    The Bargain, it is between Betsie and her cousin Nelson. He is a

    The Bargain, it is between Betsie and her cousin Nelson. He is acquiring a harness shop, but with the Vietnam War on is drafted and is station at a Chicago hospital for two years. They are both Amish, and now she is stepping outside the box and learning a male trade to help her cousin. He bought the business from Mr Sullivan, and she will be living with some English during the week.
    Yes, this is a very unusual story, but according to the Author, it is loosely based on a real person. We are in the midst of the civil unrest that hit this country during this war. We meet Charley who was at Kent State the day the world changed for a lot of young people.
    Charley is now a changed young man, and we deal with the dysfunction that is going on in the Sullivan home. We also see God trying to work on Betsie, to make her come to him and accept her salvation. Her parents have found their way to God and want so much for their children to come.
    I am so glad that this book is continued....I want to spend more time with Betsie and her family, and hopefully the Sullivan. Enjoy a totally different Amish story.

    I received this book through Litfuse Publicity Book Tours, and was not required to give a positive review.

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  • Posted October 15, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    WOW, a new Amish author, I really really wanted to like this boo

    WOW, a new Amish author, I really really wanted to like this book. REALLY.  However I cannot honestly say that I enjoyed this book.  First off I want to say, the writing was solid.  She is a good author, her writing was solid, but the story line was not there for me.  I found it to be too much of a stretch for me to believe that parents would leave the Amish faith, and leave their young daughters behind, knowing that one of those daughters was going to work in a harness shop.  
    Throw in the Kent State Hippie, battling his emotions over the Vietnam war, and I just was not convinced it was plausible.  Will I read the next book in the series, yes! I want to see what the next book is about.  
    This book was provided for my honest opinion and review.  No payment was received for my review.  
    3 stars

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  • Posted October 14, 2013

    This book was different than most Amish books that I have read.

    This book was different than most Amish books that I have read. It was set in 1971 which made for an interesting back drop for the story. The blending of both the Amish and English culture was interesting to read about. I enjoyed reading about Betsie and the trials that she had to go through after her parents life the Amish community. If you are looking for a new author, an Amish book that is not your typical Amish book then this is the one for you. I look forward to the next book in the serie

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  • Posted October 13, 2013

     "Gritty" "Authentic" and "Can't wait f

     "Gritty" "Authentic" and "Can't wait for the next volume!" are not words I have ever used to describe an Amish novel.
    There are two explanations for this phenomena: One is that I came up with that when I wasn't around, the other is that I just met an extraordinary book whose heroine happens to wear a bonnet.
    It is the latter. The Bargain, book one in The Plain City Peace series is now a serious competitor for my Favorite Fall Read of 2013.

    Our leading lady, Amish girl Betsie, views the upheaval of the American 1970's with wise-beyond-her-years eyes. 

    She is the perfect protagonist for us to examine the big themes through her perspective, and her religion set in contrast with what appeared to be an "anything goes" 70's culture, raises a ton of questions.

    In the middle of Amish morality, carefully maintained and set down as the community's laws, Betsie's parents have become Christians.
    They now know the One who died for them, who set them free from trying to keep a set of laws that cannot save them. They now follow the Lord who set them free instead to live in purity and grace out of Love, because of Love.
    Betsie cannot understand why they would make this terrible mistake and leave the religion they were raised in. And Betsie and Sadie, her sister, will not follow their mother and father out into the world of the English... not to stay.

    Betsie's time with the English is going to be strictly business, living with an English family so that she can temporarily take her cousin Nelson's place as their harness shop apprentice. She will keep her distance from the family members and will not, according to Amish tradition, even speak to customers by herself. Instead she will diligently fill a notebook with all that Nelson needs to know, and hope that he can come back soon and take his rightful place.
    {See that notebook she's clutching in the cover illustration? That's the one!}
    But Betsie never thought that she would walk into the Sullivan home and they would turn out to be people, with their own struggles and fears and with their own longings for family.

    You will be delighted as Betsie meets Sheila, the daughter. Suddenly Betsie has a cheerful little girl befriending her, a girl who wants to be involved in the wholesome work and pleasures like helping to wash dishes and make cookies. 

    And she meets the owner of that yellow Super Bee car you see on the cover. Michael.
    I found myself really liking this kid.
    He's comical one moment and dead serious the next.
    A wounded rebel, Michael wants to stand for something in a world that is falling for everything. He is the epitome of a young man trying to find himself, set adrift in a sea of philosophies that the world is offering him, unsure where the Northern star of absolute truth has gone.
    He's a poet inside and a cynic to the world.
    Ravi Zacharias would love to meet this young man.
    Michael reminds me of this quote from Mr. Zacharias:

    “In the 1950s kids lost their innocence.
    They were liberated from their parents by well-paying jobs, cars, and lyrics in music that gave rise to a new term ---the generation gap.
    In the 1960s, kids lost their authority.
    It was a decade of protest---church, state, and parents were all called into question and found wanting. Their authority was rejected, yet nothing ever replaced it.
    In the 1970s, kids lost their love. It was the decade of me-ism dominated by hyphenated words beginning with self.
    Self-image, Self-esteem, Self-assertion....It made for a lonely world. Kids learned everything there was to know about sex and forgot everything there was to know about love, and no one had the nerve to tell them there was a difference." 
    That is Michael. A young man the Lord can mightily use, Michael just needs to be introduced to Jesus. 
    Oh, how I am waiting for the sequel! Hurry, Please!
    Thank you Litfuse for this book!

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  • Posted October 7, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    "The problem with the English is that everyone wants to lea

    "The problem with the English is that everyone wants to lead. No one wants to submit to authority." ~ Betsie's Journal

    Imagine a novel where an Amish woman makes a bargain with her cousin and winds up experiencing what life is like for an English family in the 1970's. That is just the premise for the latest novel by author Stephanie Reed, The Bargain, her first novel in the Plain City Peace series.

    Betsie Troyer has made a bargain with her cousin Nelson to mind the harness shop while he agreed to serve in the Chicago military hospital without being drafted for two years. The arrangement would include her living with the Sullivans, an English family during her apprenticeship, while her own parents have agreed to leave behind their Amish way of life and heading to Belle Center, Ohio. They have agreed to allow their children however, to make their own choices about whether to leave or stay behind. Betsie is more that convinced her parents are making the wrong decision.

    She meets Michael Sullivan, a college drop out, hippie and the only son of the Sullivan's she is planning on working for when he arrives to pick her up for work in his yellow-jacket colored Super Bee. He lives in the small town of Hilliard and is prone to the typical emotional outbursts that were common for teens dealing with all the issues surrounding the time in which this novel takes place. He is moved to the peace movement and tries to teach Betsie some of the slang words of the English as she attempts her first visit to their local supermarket in order to fit in. She clearly doesn't have a clue to what she is saying or doing and finds herself at odds in how to fit in with this very different family.

    She is befriended by Michael's younger sister, Shelia who is 12, who she teaches the value of hardwork in taking care of the house, which is being left by the wayside by the now newly liberated Phyllis Sullivan, Shelia's mom. The family is used to such modern conveniences like a dishwasher, washer, and dryer and the television which occupies the late night hours after dinner, which they are use to getting out of a box or by making a TV dinner which is clearly unheard of in Betsie's family.

    What ensues along the way is a blending of two very different cultures and two very different types of people. There are some great humorous scenes like Betsie watching an episode of Gilligan's Island and isn't sure why a "good buddy" is being hit with a hat by another man all the time, or why Michael seems upset when Betsie fixes his blue jeans and removes all his patches to make him look less like a scarecrow and more like a respectable man. This is truly an example of an Amish woman who finds her way into That 70's show!

    I received The Bargain by Stephanie Reed compliments of Kregel Publications and Litfuse Publicity for my honest review. I did not receive any monetary compensation for a favorable review and the opinions expressed are mine alone. There are some great quotes that are included at each chapter opens from Betsie as she journals what her life is like now living among the English family. This one was truly a different kind of Amish fiction for me than I have ever experienced and gave me new insight into what life would have been like for someone so different trying to fit in during a unique time in American history. I rate this one a 4.5 out of 5 stars and look forward to the next novel in this series.

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