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The Midwife

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Overview

Since the day Rhoda Mummau was baptized into the Old Order Mennonite Church and became the head midwife of Hopen Haus, she’s been torn between the needs of the unwed mothers under her care and her desire to conceal the secrets of her past. Contact with the outside world could provide medical advantages, but remaining secluded in the community gives her the anonymity she craves.

Graduate student Beth Winslow is on a path she never would have chosen. Heartbroken after surrendering...

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Overview

Since the day Rhoda Mummau was baptized into the Old Order Mennonite Church and became the head midwife of Hopen Haus, she’s been torn between the needs of the unwed mothers under her care and her desire to conceal the secrets of her past. Contact with the outside world could provide medical advantages, but remaining secluded in the community gives her the anonymity she craves.

Graduate student Beth Winslow is on a path she never would have chosen. Heartbroken after surrendering a baby to adoption, she devotes herself to her studies until she becomes pregnant again, this time as a surrogate. But when early tests indicate possible abnormalities, Beth is unprepared for the parents’ decision to end the pregnancy—and for the fierce love she feels for this unborn child. Desperate, she flees the city and seeks refuge at Hopen House.

Past and present collide when a young woman named Amelia arrives to the sweeping countryside bearing secrets of her own. As Amelia’s due date draws near, Rhoda must face her past and those she thought she had left behind in order for the healing power of love and forgiveness to set them all free. Tyndale House Publishers

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

As Hopen Haus' head midwife, Rhoda Mummau experiences the joy of numerous births, but her job also brings her into close contact with young, unwed mothers with stories of secrets and estrangement. They are not alone: Rhoda herself harbors secrets that keep her from seeking connections with potentially life-saving medical services outside the Mennonite community. All that changes after two desperate new patients arrive at Hopen Haus. An absorbing novel about the miracle of birth and rebirth; a trade paperback and NOOK Book original.

From the Publisher

“Jolina Petersheim’s lyrical storytelling absolutely sings — but it’s her quick-paced plot, complex characters, and insights into the Plain world that made it impossible for me to put The Midwife down.”
— Leslie Gould, best-selling author of The Amish Midwife
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781414379357
  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
  • Publication date: 6/1/2014
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 171,334
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author


Jolina Petersheim is a bestselling author whose unique Mennonite heritage originated in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. She and her husband now live in the mountains of Tennessee with their young daughter. Follow Jolina and her blog at www.jolinapetersheim.com.
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Read an Excerpt

the Midwife


By JOLINA PETERSHEIM, Kathryn S. Olson

Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2014 Jolina Petersheim
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4143-7935-7


CHAPTER 1

Beth, 1995

Nine minutes after the chapel bells heralded the first academic session, Dr. Thomas Fitzpatrick came into the department. His glasses were snow-spotted and the toggles of his peacoat off by one. Keeping my fingertips on the keyboard, I watched him walk the length of carpet down to his office. Then I looked at the computer screen. Winslow, Beth (1995), it read. Solomon's Choice: Finding an Ethical Solution for Remorseful Surrogates. Master's Thesis, Simms University. My heart beat double-time with the computer cursor's pulse. From the cabinet, I took Thom's favorite cup and saucer, poured water from the kettle on the hot plate, dolloped the PG Tips with cream, and carried it down the hall.

I pushed the door open farther and stood in the entrance, waiting. Located near the radiator, Thom's office was humid. It smelled of thawing wool and frostbitten winter. Gold-embossed collector's editions from Gray's well-known Anatomy of the Human Body to the rare A Discourse upon Some Late Improvements of the Means for Preserving the Health of Mariners were stacked in teetering heaps throughout the room. From experience, I knew they were organized in a labyrinth only Thom could traverse.

Wall-to-wall shelves were bookended with souvenirs from Meredith's and his trips overseas: an urn filled with pottery shards gathered from shores whose waters harbored a flooded Grecian city; a child-sized drum, its top stretched taut with buckskin; an aboriginal mask whose mouth gaped into a yawn. Despite these variegated treasures, the books were the only things Thom was particular about. The only things he did not want touched.

Thom had shed his coat. Beneath it, he wore the tweed blazer with the stamped brown buttons and worn leather patches on the elbows that always made him too hot during his animated lectures. His yellow scarf hung from the back of his swivel chair and coiled up on the floor. A cup and saucer with cream skimming the surface of yesterday's tea sat like a paperweight on the notes scattered across his desk. Thom's desk, the rolltop slid back, was centered beneath a rectangle window that was flush with the ground outside the basement offices and whose ledge was piled almost to the top with snow. This allowed just enough natural light to reveal the floating dust that permeated the air in the ancient brick building.

"Dr. Fitzpatrick?"

Thom's head came up. His fountain pen paused on a note that, even after a year as his graduate assistant, I still could not decipher. Swiveling his chair to face me, he blinked, his great mind awakening from some cerebral dream. "Hello, Miss Beth," he said. His British accent was distinct, even after twenty years in the States.

Crossing the room, I set the saucer beside the one I had brought yesterday and took one step back. Then I looked at the pennies glinting in my polished loafers and said, "I just came to tell you that ..." I paused. "The second beta test doubled to 437. We still need an ultrasound to confirm the heartbeat. But it looks like you and Meredith ..." The words faltered behind my smile. "You and Meredith are going to have a baby."

"A baby?" Thom stared at me a moment—apparently captivated by the news we had so long anticipated—and then squinted at the calendar above his desk. I could see the date, circled in red, when my twenty-two-year-old uterus had received one grade A and two grade B fertilized embryos belonging to Thom and Meredith. "That's wonderful. What are you—" he calculated the days by tapping his fingertips on his thumb—"fifteen days post transfer?"

I nodded.

"It will be around September, then?"

"Yes." I swallowed. "Mid-September."

He said, "Meredith and I were married in September." I had a hard time envisioning the woman, who had participated in the IVF with an air of martyrdom, as a younger, blushing bride. He continued, "You have any idea what it is?"

Even after the procedures that let me stand in my professor's office with his child tucked inside my womb, the intimacy of our conversation felt wrong. He needed to be having this discussion with his wife, Meredith, who was already back at work, despite the surgery that had reset the reproductive schedule of the affluent Fitzpatrick lives.

"No idea," I lied, when I already sensed a girl. "How're you going to tell Meredith?"

"Not sure." He sighed. "Take her out for dinner?" Thom was silent, contemplating this. Then he picked his glasses up and hooked them behind his ears. "A baby," he repeated with that same whispered awe. The tortoiseshell frames pushed up on his cheeks as he smiled. "How're you feeling?"

I ducked my head. "Really, Dr. Fitzpat—" My cheeks flushed. "Thom, I mean." I dared to look up now that his glasses were in place; a barrier between us, transparent though it was. "I'm fine. I've done this before."

"I forget sometimes," he admitted. "But promise you'll let me know if you're feeling any nausea, and we'll cut back on your hours or divide your work load with Suzanne."

I nodded and broke eye contact. I did not want Thom to see my confusion surrounding the dynamics of our relationship, which was quickly becoming so hard to define. I pointed to the fresh cup of tea I'd set beside his desk.

He took an obligatory sip and dabbed the side of his mouth with the back of his hand. "Perfect," he said. "Thank you."

Tears needled my eyes. Hair brushing hot cheeks, I collected yesterday's cup and saucer and left his office without letting the painted knob catch. Taking a seat at my desk, I stared at the computer screen and typed:

This year, over four hundred babies were born to surrogate mothers within the United States, and many of these children will never be held by those who carried them. Although many options exist for the creation of a family, such as foster care and adoption—


Breathing hard, I held Delete until the page went blank, turned off the computer, and cradled my face in my hands.

This is a business transaction, I told myself. That is all.

* * *

As I sat across from Thom and Meredith Fitzpatrick, I had to wonder how they had come to this place. Not to the restaurant with its mahogany tables and menu whose only entry I could pronounce was hors d'oeuvres, but how they'd come to be married that fall day a few years after my birth. Albeit unversed in the psychology of marital relationships, as I'd never been married myself, I at least knew the rule that opposites attract. Perhaps Thom had once been as drawn to Meredith's domineering personality as she'd been to his passive one. Yet I had never seen a couple who seemed so far apart, and here I was six weeks pregnant with a child who would make them a family.

"You won't drink, will you?" asked Meredith, watching me over her glass of wine that probably cost more than I spent on a week's worth of groceries.

I shook my head, clearing my throat to reply, "No, ma'am," as anything else would sound rude to someone accustomed to subservience.

Thom's laughter was too brittle to cover his frustration. "Come on, Meredith. She's already been through the screening process."

"You're exercising? Eating properly?" she continued, ignoring him.

Beneath the table, I placed a hand against my unsettled stomach. "Yes," I replied.

Meredith leaned back as the waiter slid onto the table salmon ribboned across a bed of lettuce. "And you're able to juggle pregnancy and graduate school?" She flicked open a napkin and draped it over her lap.

I said, "Yes," and smiled at the waiter, who set before me a long wooden paddle with a browned artisan loaf and a small bowl of walnut pesto. Though it was meant as an appetizer, it was the only meal my stipend could afford. The Fitzpatricks had offered to pay for my meal, but I declined their offer out of pride. I didn't want the division line between us to become nebulous with favors. "I haven't had any morning sickness," I continued. "And I didn't with my previous pregnancy. So ... I should be fine." I hated how inadequate I felt. Not like someone capable of safely bearing the Fitzpatrick's child.

"Yes. About that ..." Meredith set down her fork. "Why didn't you want to keep the child?"

The ease with which she asked me, a complete stranger who happened to be incubating her offspring, such a personal question sucked the breath from my lungs. Closing my eyes, my mind reeled with the image of that precious baby in my arms, who had looked around the delivery room with the same remarkable, two-toned irises as his father. I recalled the blue cap I'd knitted during freshman biology peeking above the striped blanket. The petals of his tiny pink hand reaching out to twine the stem of my smallest finger. How the Mennonite midwife, Deborah Brubaker, had allowed me to nurse him as a wrenchingly beautiful gift to me.

After I'd signed the release forms that allowed the adoptive parents to pick my child up and take him away, Deborah had come into my hospital room and switched off the television. I had turned it to a morning talk show discussing the second anniversary of In re Baby M—the infamous custody battle that resulted in America's first court ruling in favor of surrogacy. Surrogate mother Mary Beth Whitehead had been granted visitation rights to the child she had carried for William and Elizabeth Stern, known as "Baby M." Whitehead had birthed the child and relinquished her as contracted, but twenty-four hours later, Whitehead demanded that she be given back by threatening suicide. Once the Sterns returned the child, Whitehead had fled New Jersey, taking the newborn with her. The Sterns had tied up the Whiteheads' bank accounts and issued a warrant to arrest Mary Beth and her husband.

From my rapt expression while watching the talk show, Deborah must have sensed the case was giving my eighteen- year-old heart foolish hope that, though my son's adoption was closed, if I simply demanded he be given back as Whitehead had done, one day I could hold him again. Deborah had silenced my protests when the television screen faded to black and dropped the remote into the pocket of her scrubs. Then she'd crossed the room and held my forehead with one cool hand. At this foreign, maternal touch, I'd recoiled and buried my face in the hospital pillow. Deborah, as if sensing the deeper hurt beneath my loss, began to sing Pennsylvania Dutch lullabies until my angry sobbing and the contractions shrinking my vacant womb had ceased.

Thom's steak knife clattered to his plate. I opened my eyes, drawn back to the present. "My word, Meredith," he said from between his teeth. "This dinner's to celebrate the pregnancy, not spring an interrogation."

Meredith faced her husband. He stared back, unflinching beneath the wielded scalpel of her gaze. I then realized that Thomas Fitzpatrick might not be as passive as I thought. I wondered what else about him might not be as I'd thought. Wearing a black suit coat accented with brass cuff links and his unruly hair slicked with gel, he looked as refined and wealthy as his wife, not the prototypical absent- minded professor with perpetually smudged spectacles and tea-splotched notes layering his desk.

"I just want her to understand how serious this is," said Meredith.

I sat there stunned, wondering how she could say that—how she could ask me these things—when we had both endured the clinical and psychological screenings. When we had both received injections for the synchronization of our cycles, gone through the ovarian and endometrial stimulation, the monitoring, the egg retrieval and transfer. The entirety of the in vitro fertilization procedure had been invasive if not painful, and I was just at the beginning with thirty-four more weeks to go.

Thom said, "Her name's Beth."

"Okay, then. I want Beth to understand how serious this is."

The harsh undertones in the way Meredith said my name drew me up short. I shivered, although she had reserved a table for us near the fire. I said, "I'll take good care of your child."

Her blue eyes ricocheted away from her husband and back to me. In them I read uncertainty, doubt, jealousy, and I found myself questioning what kind of mother she would make. But I wouldn't let myself stop to think any further. I couldn't. This was a business transaction, I reminded myself; that was all. With the money from their check, I could pursue my PhD in bioethics and say good-bye to Thomas Fitzpatrick and to the child of his that I had birthed.

Meredith picked her fork up and set it down again. Leaving her napkin draped across the seat, she stood and picked up her purse. "Excuse me," she said.

Thom and I watched his wife stride across the restaurant in a pair of heels that glinted beneath her dress pants. He said, still watching her, "It's not your fault, Beth."

I looked down at the table. "Your wife's protective. I think—I think that would be normal in a situation like this."

Across the restaurant, crystal rang in a toast.

"Hey—" Thom reached across the table to touch the radial artery on the inside of my wrist. It thrummed to life. I could picture the warm blood rushing up through the vessels in my arm and pouring into my heart. "I hope you know what this means to me. To us."

A year and a half since my graduate assistantship had assigned me to Thomas Fitzpatrick—the quiet, unobtrusive man with an Opie Taylor cowlick and a surprisingly boyish grin. A year and a half since I had become the grader of his multiple-choice tests. The one who rinsed his delicate teacups and located his slides on the Law of the Three Ps and refilled his Montblanc fountain pens with fresh ink. And this—this—was the first time he showed me any affection.

For the length of time it took another ember to fall, I sat motionless and savored the feel of his fingertips grazing my skin. I withdrew my hand, curling it in my lap as if it had been struck. "You're welcome," I said. I had never been one for words.

Thom's wife returned, her lips pinched and her purse tucked beneath her arm. His smile faded. He slid out of the seat to stand beside her. In heels, Meredith Fitzpatrick was a head taller than he was. It was amazing that after all the time I'd sat in Boswell Auditorium and watched him give lectures on Nigel Cameron's article "Embryos and Ethics" and Kenneth Alpern's The Ethics of Reproductive Technology, I'd never once realized that Thomas Fitzpatrick was not larger than life, but a rather short, middle-aged man.

"It was nice to see you," Meredith said.

I said, "You too." Her smile made me question the sincerity of her words.

"I'll see you on Tuesday, then?" Thom asked me.

"Something for ...?" said Meredith.

"Not for the baby," Thom replied. "For her thesis."

Meredith said nothing else. Thom retrieved her coat from the maitre d' and held it by the shoulders while she slid it over her arms, the silk lining slipping easily over her white cashmere sweater. Thom leaned over to give me a rather awkward side hug. Meredith shook my hand. By the lines bracketing the bright slash of her mouth, I knew she would despise me for prolonging an unbearable evening if I asked them to drive me to my car.

So I sat on one of the velvet benches flanking the restaurant's entrance, as if I were simply waiting for the valet to bring my car around. I smiled as Thom opened the front door for Meredith. The foyer filled with a blast of cold. Outside, the balding valet with the earmuffs reached into the pocket of his parka and dangled car keys in front of Thom. Loneliness and sadness engulfed me. I watched the Fitzpatricks drive away, their headlights barely penetrating the sleet propelled by gale-force winds.

Sure that they'd gone, I exited the restaurant. The huddled valets in their black dress slacks, black shoes, and downy parkas reminded me of emperor penguins awaiting the passage of winter. The valet with earmuffs nodded; the others barely glanced my way. I hunched my shoulders around my neck and, in my thin loafers, retraced the two blocks to La Trattoria. The checkered awning was bent with the weight of snow. An unlit neon sign claimed that twenty-four hours a day pizza was sold by pie or slice. The sign on the door said Closed.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from the Midwife by JOLINA PETERSHEIM, Kathryn S. Olson. Copyright © 2014 Jolina Petersheim. Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 18 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 18 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 17, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    The Midwife is an absolute outstanding read. Jolina didn't just

    The Midwife is an absolute outstanding read. Jolina didn't just write Beth breathed life into Beth. Beth is a young girl trying to do something good to help someone else by becoming a surrogate at a time when it was relatively new. Things get over her head when the doctors believe the baby has abnormalities and the parents want to terminate the pregnancy. A mother's hedge of protection surround this tiny soul within her womb and Beth runs to protect her. As I read Beth, I felt for her I cheered for her. I couldn't believe the people around her and what she was seeing. She wanted to give this little baby a chance.




    Over time, Rhoda a Midwife in a Mennonite community becomes cold and a little distant from those around her. Her past she keeps hidden until her past shows up on her doorstep. I honestly wasn't sure how all these stories were going to come together and one piece had me completely thrown off (I won't give more of a clue than that), but as the novel closes I was dumbfounded by the last piece of the puzzle.




    The Midwife is one I had a hard time putting down. The story is told with alternating voices of past Beth, current Rhoda and Amelia. I love when I can't put everything together just right and The Midwife offers that. My heart broke for Beth and Rhoda...I wanted them to find peace and happiness. Sometimes there is no greater punishment, than the punishment we inflict upon ourselves and this was evident in The Midwife.




    Do not label this book as Christian, or Amish/Mennonite fiction--labels are limiting. A stunning story of healing, of walking through our past, and coming out in-the-end a better person because of it and understanding who we are.




    A book I will highly be recommending to all my friends. Jolina Petersheim is fast becoming a favorite author of mine.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 29, 2014

    I found The Midwife to be first confusing, then disappointing.

    I found The Midwife to be first confusing, then disappointing. I don't enjoy books written in 1st person, and this one had more than one character portrayed in that style. Secondly, there are a lot of flashbacks, and that makes it confusing. Also, it isn't realistic of the Old Order Mennonite culture I'm acquainted with.

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  • Posted August 26, 2014

    Excellent Book! This is the second book I read by Jolina Peters

    Excellent Book!

    This is the second book I read by Jolina Petersheim and I wasn't disappointed.  The author didn't write a typical Amish romance book, she took a young lady in an unusual situation and wove her into an Amish world. Rhoda, the head midwife at Hopen Haus is forced to remember her past as Beth and the people she knew as one by one they make their way to Hopen Haus.  She also has several pregnant young women that require her help that she is not able to devote all her time to dwelling on her past. Finally all the unanswered questions from the prologue are answered and the current problems are resolved allowing Hopen Haus to continue.

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  • Posted August 25, 2014

    This book was rather unique.  I'm not a big fan of Amish/Mennoni

    This book was rather unique.  I'm not a big fan of Amish/Mennonite fiction because I think too often it doesn't depict the way things really are in this culture.  To me, this was very true in this book.  She calls the characters Old-Order Mennonites and yet, the fact that they don't have electricity, etc. seems way more Amish than Mennonite.  The OOM I know all have electricity and telephones.  Also, the fact that Rhoda/Beth was immersed does not go along with typical Amish culture.  Most of them would not go against their standard ways of doing things because of the whim of one person.  Things like that caused me to be a little turned off by the book.  The story line was okay--rather unrealistic and while Rhoda was baptized in to the church, there didn't seem to be a heart transformation, which, unfortunately can be true of a lot of people, I suppose.   Overall, it confirmed to me again that I will stay away from these kinds of books.  

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  • Posted August 23, 2014

    Get Your Tissues Ready. We are drawn into unique and interesting

    Get Your Tissues Ready. We are drawn into unique and interesting scenarios right away. The faith of the characters is stretched, and many surprises carry the story along, moving toward the emotional resolution. The characters are beautifully depicted, and the plot is intense. The point of view changes, so there are several people and two timelines to juggle. There is a lot of heart wrenching distress in this story, but the midwives, the babies, and the mother love are described so realistically that it’s worth it.

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  • Posted August 12, 2014

    In the first half of The Midwife was just slow for me. With the

    In the first half of The Midwife was just slow for me. With the different people in the first person had me confused. Once I finally caught on I could not stop turning the pages. So many revelations that I did not see coming.
    By the end of the book, I realized that it is a great read! So many lessons to learn. I continued on to read the Author's note and cried with her. Boy, do I know what she was talking about. Heartbreaking.
    4 1/2 stars.

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  • Posted July 29, 2014

    Wonderful story blending a the tale of a modern young lady from

    Wonderful story blending a the tale of a modern young lady from 1995 who has agreed to be a surrogate mother and an old order Mennonite midwife who has a house for young unmarried pregnant girls. But all is not as it seems and there are twists and turns in the story that left me wanting to know what would happen next. What happened to Beth’s baby? Would Hopen Haus have to shut down? What caused Rhoda’s grief? I couldn’t put this book down and highly recommend it, even for those who don’t like “Amish” stories.

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  • Posted July 20, 2014

    The Midwife is certainly not like many other Amish/Mennonite fic

    The Midwife is certainly not like many other Amish/Mennonite fiction selections that I have read. It is a wonderful story told by a master storyteller and not fluffy or an easy read in any way. It is a little difficult to follow in the beginning as there are three points of view that are alternately told. But once the foundation is established, the book runs smoothly and the story is compelling. Motherhood, love and forgiveness, particularly self-forgiveness are all part of this powerful story, one that is highly recommended.

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  • Posted June 30, 2014

    Fascinating story of a woman, Beth Winslow, who earned money bei

    Fascinating story of a woman, Beth Winslow, who earned money being a surrogate mother for women who wanted a baby but either couldn’t carry the baby or didn’t wish to be pregnant. Problems erupted when the parents of the current embryo decide they want Beth to abort the baby because an early test indicates the baby will be abnormal. Rather than abort the baby, Beth flees to Hopen Haus, a home for unwed mothers in a Mennonite community. There Beth assists the midwife in the home and participates in the activities of the community. What happens when the baby’s parents find her? How did they find her? What does Beth remember about Meredith and Hope that gives her comfort? Who offers Beth his unconditional love? How does she react to that?

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  • Posted June 23, 2014

    Incredible!!! The characters in this story are so lifelike that

    Incredible!!!

    The characters in this story are so lifelike that you could reach out and touch them and feel their breath upon your skin.

    This is a story about heartbreak and redemption told by an extraordinary storyteller. Author, Jolina Petersheim, draws you deep into the lives, both past and present, of each character.

    My favorite quote is, "I love you so much; I could just squeeze the pudding out of you!" Ü

    I highly recommend this book. I believe fans of Julie Cantrell and Lisa Wingate will especially enjoy Jolina's writing style.

    This is a novel that is staying on my bookshelf to be read again and again.

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  • Posted June 23, 2014

    I read and enjoyed the author's debut novel The Outcast and I ex

    I read and enjoyed the author's debut novel The Outcast and I expected to enjoy this book just as much. To say that I enjoyed The Midwife would be a gross understatement. The story just blew me away. If I did not already know that this was only her second novel, I would have never guessed.




    I had presupposed that this would be an interesting story about a Mennonite midwife. It was . . . but that was only the tip of the iceberg. The story begins with Beth Winslow. She is a grad student working on her thesis entitled "Solomon's Choice: Finding an Ethical Solution for Remorseful Surrogates". Little did Beth know that she would be living out her thesis. Not only does she become a surrogate, but when the biological parents decide to terminate the pregnancy she's faced with the ethical decision of abortion. 




    We next venture into the world of Rhoda Mummau. Many years ago Rhoda converted to the Mennonite lifestyle and eventually became the head midwife at Hopen Hous. Rhoda is a very competent midwife but she has a past that is secret to all but a few and that past has left wounds that go very deep. 




    Before long these two seemingly separate lives begin to intertwine and become one. Old wounds are opened and secrets are exposed. There is absolutely no way Beth or Rhoda can come away unscathed. But the interesting thing is that God has a way of exchanging beauty for ashes and the oil of joy for mourning.




    I can pretty much guarantee that you will not come away from this novel without lingering thoughts about the situation. You will surely ponder on what you would do in the situations that were presented. Let me leave you with one of my favorite quotes from the book that just continues to resonate with me.




    ". . . love is not about holding on to someone, but about allowing someone to grow and change and loving them through this never-ending metamorphosis of life that--in the process--sometimes changes us too."




    I received a copy of this book to facilitate my review.

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  • Posted June 13, 2014

    I received a free paperback copy of "The Midwife" by J

    I received a free paperback copy of "The Midwife" by Jolina Petersheim in order for me to read and review it for Tyndaleblognetwork. 




    I have read both of Jolina's books and enjoyed them both.  It takes some getting used to her style of writing where you switch from the viewpoint of different characters in the book.  'The Midwife"  follows Beth Winslow in the mid 1990's and Rhoda in 2014. 




    Beth agrees to be a gestational surrogate for her graduate adviser and his wife.  But when there are problems, the parents decide that if the baby isn't "normal" they want to end the pregnancy.  Beth "kidnaps" the baby still in her womb and flees to the Dry Creek Community of Old Order Mennonites.  She hopes she can start a new life and find someone to love that won't abandon her like her mother had done.




    Rhoda resists help from the outside world fearing that with it her past will come to light and shatter the life she has built for herself as head midwife for Hopen Haus in the Dry Creek Community.  When her past finds her, will she be able to come to grips with those who've abandoned her and those she's abandoned? Will she be able to trust God to lead her through so she can find her Hope?




    The book is set in an Old Order Mennonite Community mostly.  Since Hopen Haus is a home for unwed mothers, there has obviously been some past "indiscretion's", although there isn't much elaboration on them.  It shows that any person (even "Plain" ones) can fail.




    I had a hard time putting the book down and found myself skimming over the words to see what was going to happen sooner.  But I didn't want to miss anything, so I'd slow down and read it all!  The prologue confused me until I was quite a ways into the the book.  I think it would be better to not be there personally. 




    One time in the book one of the girls has an infection and someone asks if they gave her penicillin.  They reply that she is allergic to penicillin so they gave her amoxicillin instead.  Being allergic to penicillin myself, I was told that it didn't matter which one it was if it was in the same family, so they couldn't give her amoxicillin, either.  I don't think it took away from the story, it was just an observation I had. 




    I would recommend" The Midwife" to those who enjoy Inspirational or Mennonite/Amish romances.  The romance isn't the main story line, but it is there at the end.

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  • Posted June 6, 2014

    I had a difficult time getting into this book. There are a lot

    I had a difficult time getting into this book. There are a lot of characters to get to know right off the bat and the shifting of past to present in the midst of all the different characters threw me for a little bit. There was actually a point that I considered giving up on the book, something that I almost never do. However, I kept reading and ended up being really glad that I didn't give up.

    This is one of those rare books where the author doesn't shy away from having really horrible things happen to the main character. Granted, Beth/Rhoda makes some really poor choices, but she carries many scars and abandonment issues. While Beth's story is painful to read at times, there are people right now struggling with the same issues that Beth faced. In fact, readers can see a wide spectrum of very human pain and suffering in the characters of this book that will probably strike a chord in them. Personally, I enjoy reading books like this, where the characters experience real life pain and consequences of their decisions.

    Aside from the emotional pain and turmoil in this book, there are very powerful messages. Forgiveness, letting go of the past, redemption, and the realization that every human relationship will fail us at some point, are all themes Petersheim addresses in her book. Beth learns that only God can provide her with what she needs. This is a lesson everyone needs to be reminded of as we live our lives.

    The final third of this book is completely riveting. All of the threads of the story are neatly tied up and the ending is one I am still mulling over. Although this is only Petersheim's second novel, her storytelling skills are remarkable. She does an incredible job weaving all the characters together. I think the pacing of the book is perfect. There is no sense of urgency in wrapping it up at the end, which seems to happen a lot. The ending happens very naturally, without feeling rushed. I think it is an example of excellent story-crafting.

    For me, this ended up being a very rare book. It is one that I almost put down, but has ended up being one that I will re-read, which is something else I usually don't do. If you are looking for a book that will make you cry, this is it. This is a great book for a weekend that you have time to relax and spend in front of the fire. I think it will stay with you, as it has with me.

    I received a complimentary copy of this book from Net Gallery in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

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  • Posted June 5, 2014

    A Riveting Read! Masterful storyteller, Jolina Petersheim, has

    A Riveting Read!

    Masterful storyteller, Jolina Petersheim, has penned a riveting, emotive tale that vacillates between three women from different walks of life, but all having two things in common --- deep buried secrets and a desperate need for love.




    Beth Winslow, a graduate student agrees to become a surrogate for her professor and his wife. Upon realizing that the child she is carrying may be abnormal and the parents want her to abort it, Beth flees the city and seeks refuge at Hopen Haus, a Mennonite home for unwed mothers. Rhoda, the head midwife at Hopen Haus gives everything to the girls who are incumbent upon her care...except her heart. Past hurts and secrets cause her to carefully guard her broken heart at all costs, especially when Looper, a lost love comes unexpectedly to her aid at Hopen Haus. When a young woman named Amelia arrives bearing secrets of her own, will Rhoda finally come to terms with her past and find healing for a barren midwife's soul?




    The Midwife isn't your typical, light Mennonite/Amish book, and was born through a time of intense loss, heartbreak, and subsequent healing for the author, Jolina Petersheim. It is a heartrending story, but one of hope, healing, and redemption. A mesmerizing, unpredictable novel, filled with twists and turns, and an element of suspense -- you'll find yourself madly flipping those pages to see if happiness continues to elude Rhoda, the midwife. Jolina Petersheim is a fresh, unique voice in Christian fiction, who knows how to weave a compelling story that evokes powerful emotions in her readers from page one until the satisfying conclusion.

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  • Posted June 5, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    The Midwife is one riveting read, a real page-turner, and you re

    The Midwife is one riveting read, a real page-turner, and you really never see what is coming. This is one where I can usually figure out the ending in my mind, not this one.
    As we travel down on journey of life, it is probably a very good thing that we cannot see what is around the next corner. We travel with Beth, really beginning with her consensual decision to be a surrogate, having already experienced the pain of giving up a child to adoption. How she thought that it would be easier the second time is beyond me, although genetically the child wasn’t related to her.
    Funny how God places people in our path that and that appears to be just what happens in Rhoda/Beth’s case. Of course there is evil present, and it is hard to believe the form it takes, and yet even this has some good in it.
    Although we are in a Mennonite Community, you basically will see no difference here than in an Amish Community, this one is really Old Order. No electricity, or cars, and we are mainly in a home for unwed mothers, from all backgrounds. For some this must be a really rude awakening!
    As we travel in Beth’s shoes, I wholly agreed with her decisions, and loved how she becomes the person she does, and how all things work out. A really great read.

    I received this book from Tyndale House Publishers through Net Galley, and was not required to give a positive review.

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  • Posted May 28, 2014

    Raw emotion mixed with fierce maternal tension. Petersheim weave

    Raw emotion mixed with fierce maternal tension.
    Petersheim weaves a tale of raw emotion tangled with deep regrets and the choice to forgive and love or hold onto the anger and stay safely locked away in one's own prison. Can Rhoda, head midwife of Hopen Haus, come to grips with the past when it stares her in the face, literally? Amelia, a young pregnant woman, stirs up feelings and memories in Rhoda like no other young mother before. While Rhoda longs for love, the road to healing may be too painful. What part do Looper, Wilbur,
    Thomas, and Alice all play in this drama? More importantly, will Rhoda allow God to do His healing work, or will she close the door on Him as she has so many times in the past?
    The story starts slowly but builds in intensity until the tension becomes nail-biting. The narrative weaves back and forth between different narrators which makes the reader pay special attention to see how the author will sew it all back together.
    I received this book free from Tyndale and conniewithay's blogsite in exchange for an honest review.

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  • Posted May 24, 2014

    This was a good read.  This was a nice bit of fiction.  Nice mix

    This was a good read.  This was a nice bit of fiction.  Nice mixing of the Englishers and the Mennonites.  It did get a little confusing for me at first when they kept going back and forth in time during the story.  Then it seemed to click for me and I enjoyed the going back and forth and learning more about all the characters.  I did love how she brought the past and the present together in the end.  I received this from Tyndale  publishing for a fair and honest opinion.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

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