The Outcast

( 44 )

Overview

Rachel Stoltzfus never imagined she’d be the talk of her Old Order Mennonite community until whispers stir the moment her belly swells with new life. Unmarried and refusing to repent by naming the partner in her sin, Rachel feels the wrath of the religious sect as she is shunned by those she loves most and eventually forced to leave—driven out by her twin sister’s husband, the bishop.

But secrets run deep in this cloistered community, and the bishop is hiding some of his own, ...

See more details below
Paperback
$12.29
BN.com price
(Save 12%)$13.99 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (42) from $1.99   
  • New (15) from $5.23   
  • Used (27) from $1.99   
The Outcast

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$9.99
BN.com price
(Save 28%)$13.99 List Price

Overview

Rachel Stoltzfus never imagined she’d be the talk of her Old Order Mennonite community until whispers stir the moment her belly swells with new life. Unmarried and refusing to repent by naming the partner in her sin, Rachel feels the wrath of the religious sect as she is shunned by those she loves most and eventually forced to leave—driven out by her twin sister’s husband, the bishop.

But secrets run deep in this cloistered community, and the bishop is hiding some of his own, threatening his conscience and his very soul. When the life of Rachel’s baby is at stake, choices must be made that will bring the darkness to light, forever changing the lives of those who call Copper Creek home. Tyndale House Publishers

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Like The Scarlet Letter's Hester Prynne, The Outcast's Rachel Stolzfus must confront shunning and scorn for her violation of ordinances against premarital sex. Her pregnancy offends the community, but in the view of many, what is even worse is her stubborn refusal to identify the father of her child. Jolina Petersheim's novel of an Old Order Mennonite woman captures the unfolding story of impulses, ethics, and recovery. Editor's recommendation.

Publishers Weekly
This contemporary reworking of The Scarlet Letter centers on the struggles, shame, sin, and strength of Rachel Stoltzfus. Born into an Old Order Mennonite community in Pennsylvania, Rachel moves to the Copper Creek community in Tennessee to help her sister Leah and brother-in-law Tobias with their new baby boy. Shortly after her move, Rachel's life takes an unexpected turn as she is forced to deal with her own pregnancy. Feeling morally trapped, she declines to ask for forgiveness and disclose the name of her child's father, and is judged harshly by residents of Copper Creek and her own family. She is torn between a life she has always known and her desire to separate herself from a world that no longer accepts her. As Rachel makes an effort to rise above her circumstances and their complications, including her child's health issues, Petersheim's emotional story leaves readers intrigued by the purity of Rachel's strong will, resilience, and loyalty. Agent: Wes Yoder, Ambassador Agency. (July)
From the Publisher

"A must-read that will draw you into a secretive world of sin and senselessness and leave you with the hope of one set free."
-Julie Cantrell, New York Times bestselling author of Into the Free
Library Journal
Rachel Stoltzfus has led a contented life among her Old Order Mennonite community. But when she becomes pregnant and refuses to reveal the identity of the father, the sect shuns her, and the bishop, who is Rachel's brother-in-law and who has secrets of his own, forces her to leave. VERDICT Petsheim makes an outstanding debut with this fresh and inspirational retelling of Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter. Well-drawn characters and good, old-fashioned storytelling combine in an excellent choice for Nancy Mehl's readers.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781414379340
  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
  • Publication date: 6/21/2013
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 359,504
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author


Jolina Petersheim’s unique Mennonite heritage originated in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, but she and her husband now live in the mountains of Tennessee with their young daughter. Follow Jolina and her blog at www.jolinapetersheim.com.
Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

the OUTCAST


By JOLINA PETERSHEIM, Kathryn S. Olson

Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2013 Jolina Petersheim
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4143-7934-0


Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

Rachel

My face burns with the heat of a hundred stares. No one is looking down at Amos King's handmade casket because they are all too busy looking at me. Even Tobias cannot hide his disgust when he reaches out a hand, and then realizes he has not extended it to his angelic wife, who was too weak to come, but to her fallen twin. Drawing the proffered hand back, Tobias buffs the knuckles against his jacket as if to clean them and slips his hand beneath the Bible. All the while his black eyes remain fixed on me until Eli emits a whimper that awakens the new bishop to consciousness. Clearing his throat, Tobias resumes reading from the German Bible: "'Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death ...'"

I cannot help but listen to such a well-chosen verse, despite the person reading it. I feel I am walking through the valley of death even as this new life, my child, yawns against my ribs. Slipping a hand beneath Eli's diapered bottom, I jiggle him so that his ribbon mouth slackens into a smile. I then glance across the earthen hole and up into Judah King's staring, honey-colored eyes. His are softer than his elder brother Tobias's: there is no judgment in them, only the slightest veiling of confusion not thick enough to hide the pain of his unrequited love, a love I have been denying since childhood.

Dropping my gaze, I recall how my braided pigtails would fly out behind me as I sprinted barefoot down the grassy hill toward ten-year-old Judah. I remember how he would scream, "Springa! Springa!" and instead of being caught by Leah or Eugene or whoever was doing the chasing, I would run right toward the safety of base and the safety of him. Afterward, the two of us would slink away from our unfinished chores and go sit in the milking barn with our sweat-soaked backs against the coolness of the storage tanks. Judah would pass milk to me from a jelly jar and I would take a sip, read a page of the Hardy Boys or the Boxcar Children, and then pass his contraband book and jelly jar back.

Because of those afternoons, Judah taught me how to speak, write, and read English far better and far earlier than our Old Order Mennonite teachers ever could have. As our playmates were busy speaking Pennsylvania Dutch, Judah and I had our own secret language, and sheathed in its safety, he would often confide how desperately he wanted to leave this world for the larger one beyond it. A world he had explored only through the books he would purchase at Root's Market when his father wasn't looking and read until the pages were sticky with the sweat of a thousand secret turnings.

Summer was slipping into fall by the time my mamm, Helen, discovered our hiding spot. Judah and I had just returned from making mud pies along the banks of the Kings' cow pond when she stepped out of the fierce sun into the barn's shaded doorway and found us sitting, once again, beside the milking tanks with the fifth book in the Boxcar Children series draped over our laps. Each of us was so covered in grime that the jelly jar from which we drank our milk was marred with a lipstick kiss of mud. But we were pristine up to the elbows, because Judah feared we would damage his book's precious pages if we did not redd up before reading them.

That afternoon, all my mamm had to do was stand in the doorway of the barn with one hand on her hip and wag the nubby index finger of her other hand (nubby since it had gotten caught in the corn grinder when she was a child), and I leaped to my feet with my face aflame.

For hours and hours afterward, my stomach churned. I thought that when Dawdy got home from the New Holland horse sales he would take me out to the barn and whip me. But he didn't.

To this day, I'm not even sure Mamm told him she'd caught Judah and me sitting very close together as we read from our Englischer books. I think she kept our meeting spot a secret because she did not want to root out the basis of our newly sprouted friendship, which she hoped would one day turn into fully grown love. Since my mamm was as private as a woman in such a small community could be, I never knew these were her thoughts until nine years later when I wrote to tell her I was with child.

She arrived, haggard and alone, two days after receiving my letter. When she disembarked from the van that had brought her on the twelve-hour journey from Pennsylvania to Tennessee, she walked with me into Leah and Tobias's white farmhouse, up the stairs into my bedroom, and asked in hurried Pennsylvania Dutch, "Is Judah the vadder?"

Shocked, I just looked at her a moment, then shook my head.

She took me by the shoulders and squeezed them until they ached. "If not him, who?"

"I cannot say."

"What do you mean, you cannot say? Rachel, I am your mudder. You can trust me, jah?"

"Some things go beyond trust," I whispered.

My mamm's blue eyes narrowed as they bored into mine. I wanted to look away, but I couldn't. Although I was nineteen, I felt like I was a child all over again, like she still held the power to know when I had done something wrong and who I had done it with.

At last, she released me and dabbed her tears with the index nub of her left hand. "You're going to have a long row to hoe," she whispered.

"I know."

"You'll have to do it alone. Your dawdy won't let you come back ... not like this."

"I know that, too."

"Did you tell Leah?"

Again, I shook my head.

My mamm pressed her hand against the melon of my stomach as if checking its ripeness. "She'll find out soon enough." She sighed. "What are you? Three months, four?"

"Three months." I couldn't meet her eyes.

"Hide it for two more. 'Til Leah and the baby are stronger. In the meantime, you'll have to find a place of your own. Tobias won't let you stay here."

"But where will I go? Who will take me in?" Even in my despondent state, I hated the panic that had crept into my voice.

My mamm must have hated it as well. Her nostrils flared as she snapped, "You should've thought of this before, Rachel! You have sinned in haste. Now you must repent at leisure!"

This exchange between my mamm and me took place eight months ago, but I still haven't found a place to stay. Although the Mennonites do not practice the shunning enforced by the Amish Ordnung, anyone who has joined the Old Order Mennonite church as I had and then falls outside its moral guidelines without repentance is still treated with the abhorrence of a leper. Therefore, once the swelling in my belly was obvious to all, the Copper Creek Community, who'd welcomed me with such open arms when I moved down to care for my bedridden sister, began to retreat until I knew my child and I would be facing our uncertain future alone. Tobias, more easily swayed by the community than he lets on, surely would have cast me and my bastard child out onto the street if it weren't for his wife. Night after night I would overhear my sister in their bedroom next to mine, begging Tobias, like Esther beseeching the king, to forgive my sins and allow me to remain sheltered beneath their roof—at least until after my baby was born.

"Tobias, please," Leah would entreat in her soft, high-pitched voice, "if you don't want to do it for Rachel, then do it for me!"

Twisting in the quilts, I would burrow my head beneath the pillow and imagine my sister's face as she begged her husband: it would be as white as the cotton sheet on which I lay, her cheeks and temples hollowed at first by chronic morning sickness, then later—after Jonathan's excruciating birth—by the emergency C-section that forced her back into the prison bed from which she'd just been released.

Although I knew everything external about my twin, for in that way she and I were one and the same, lying there as Tobias and Leah argued, I could not understand the internal differences between us. She was selfless to her core—a trait I once took merciless advantage of. She would always take the drumstick of the chicken and give me the breast; she would always sleep on the outside of the bed despite feeling more secure against the wall; she would always let me wear her new dresses until a majority of the straight pins tacking them together had gone missing and they had frayed at the seams.

Then, the ultimate test: at eighteen Leah married Tobias King. Not out of love, as I would have required of a potential marriage, but out of duty. His wife had passed away five months after the birth of their daughter Sarah, and Tobias needed a mudder to care for the newborn along with her three siblings. Years ago, my family's home had neighbored the Kings'. I suppose when Tobias realized he needed a wife to replace the one he'd lost, he recalled my docile, sweet-spoken twin and wrote, asking if she would be willing to marry a man twelve years her senior and move away to a place that might as well have been a foreign land.

I often wonder if Leah said yes to widower Tobias King because her selfless nature would not allow her to say no. Whenever she imagined saying no and instead waiting for a union with someone she might actually love, she would probably envision those four motherless children down in Tennessee with the Kings' dark complexion and angular build, and her tender heart would swell with compassion and the determination to marry a complete stranger. I think, at least in the back of her mind, Leah also knew that an opportunity to escape our yellow house on Hilltop Road might not present itself again. I had never wanted for admirers, so I did not fear this fate, but then I had never trembled at the sight of a man other than my father, either. As far back as I can recall, Leah surely did, and I remember how I had to peel her hands from my forearms as the wedding day's festivities drew to a close, and Mamm and I finished preparing her for her and Tobias's final unifying ceremony.

"Ach, Rachel," she stammered, dark-blue eyes flooded with tears. " I—I can't."

"You goose," I replied, "sure you can! No one's died from their wedding night so far, and if all these children are a sign, I'd say most even like it!"

It was a joy to watch my sister's wan cheeks burn with embarrassment, and that night I suppose they burned with something entirely new. Two months later she wrote to say that she was with child—Tobias King's child—but there were some complications, and would I mind terribly much to move down until the baby's birth?

Now Tobias finishes reading from the Psalms, closes the heavy Bible, and bows his head. The community follows suit. For five whole minutes not a word is spoken, but each of us is supposed to remain in a state of silent prayer. I want to pray, but I find even the combined vocabulary of the English and Pennsylvania Dutch languages insufficient for the turbulent emotions I feel. Instead, I just close my eyes and listen to the wind brushing its fingertips through the autumnal tresses of the trees, to the trilling melody of snow geese migrating south, to the horses stomping in the churchyard, eager to be freed from their cumbersome buggies and returned to the comfort of the stall.

Although Tobias gives us no sign, the community becomes aware that the prayer time is over, and everyone lifts his or her head. The men then harness ropes around Amos's casket, slide out the boards that were bracing it over the hole, and begin to lower him into his grave.

I cannot account for the tears that form in my eyes as that pine box begins its jerky descent into darkness. I did not know Amos well enough to mourn him, but I did know that he was a good man, a righteous man, who had extended his hand of mercy to me without asking questions. Now that his son has taken over as bishop of Copper Creek, I fear that hand will be retracted, and perhaps the tears are more for myself and my child than they are for the man who has just left this life behind.


AMOS

I never thought I would enjoy the day of my own funeral, yet that's exactly what I find myself doing. Outside my and my wife's haus, which has been scoured from top to bottom by my sisters, I watch my grandsons discard their sorrow like a worn-out garment and begin to rollick with the enthusiasm of pups. Before you can count to zehn, the knees of their best pants are stained brown with dirt, and their straw hats with the black bands have gone sailing off into the yard, causing the fine hair not constrained in the bowl cuts to poke into their eyes.

If the mothers, aunts, and sisters of these boys could see them all now, they would surely wag their fingers along with their tongues. But they can't. They are too busy slicing schunke and mashing grummbeere, beating egg whites into stiff meringue peaks and pouring pickled chowchow into crystal relish bowls. My wife brushes a tendril beneath her black bonnet and stoops to slide an apple strudel into the kochoffe. If given another chance, I would pull that black bonnet and prayer kapp back and burnish every silvered tendril of hers with a kiss. I imagine how Verna would scold while swatting me out of the kitchen, but all the while her dark eyes would shine as she reveled in the fact that she was loved by a man no longer afraid to show it.

I imagine, too, how I would go up to my three daughters—Irene, Mary, and Ruth—who are right now filling the chocolate whoopee pies with peanut butter cream, and I would hug them. Oh, how I would hug them! All these years as husband and father, I allowed my stiff German upbringing to inhibit the demonstrativeness of my love, for I thought the congregation might perceive physical touch to be improper. Now that my mortal eyes have been replaced with something far more heavenly, I can see how my girls yearned for my touch until they became women who expected it no longer.

The banter of my wife, sisters, and daughters as they prepare the evening esse reassures my heart that theirs will mend, despite eyes still being swelled from tears and chests heaving with the flood of those they have not shed. The only one who worries me is Rachel Stoltzfus. Though she is of no immediate relation, I wish I could do something to ease the pain etched across her features because I feel responsible for it.

You see, when the heat of a Tennessee summer no longer allowed Rachel to conceal her illegitimate pregnancy beneath a shawl, she was placed amid those few who remain in the church while living outside its doctrinal parameters. The community, as they'd been taught by the generations before them, withdrew from Rachel so she could see the error of her carnal ways, ask for forgiveness, and rejoin the flock. I had always counted myself blessed that I was not bishop over a congregation that enforced the shunning. But watching everything unfold from this higher plane, I have to wonder if the shunning might be easier on the person it is placed upon. Without it, Rachel does not know her place, and the community does not know where to place her. They cannot be cruel—for what is Christlike in that?—but neither can they have her around the young women and men who haven't joined the church and could still be lured into leaving Plain life for the glamour of the Englischer world.


Rachel

Eli and I take a seat at the far end of the five tables. Although I have no appetite, I know that I must eat or my body will not produce enough milk to supply my ravenous son. I give him a knuckle of my left hand to suck, and his scrunched face relaxes until he realizes that nothing is coming out. Stiffening his body in its cocoon of blankets, his face darkens and his mouth splits open in a silent, frustrated wail. Then he gets his breath, and oh, what a breath it is! The entire house seems to reverberate with the intensity of his screams, and I am again amazed at how much noise can come from one so young.

Placing him against my shoulder, I sing the lullaby my mamm sang to Leah and me: "Schlaf, kindlein, schlaf! Der vater hüt' die schaf; die mutter schüttelt 's bäumelein, da fällt herab ein träumelein. Schlaf, kindlein, schlaf!" I stroke his downy hair and pat his bottom, but this does nothing to help. I am working my legs over the bench so I can go into the next room and not disturb anyone's meal, when a hand brushes my shoulder.

Turning, I look up into the smiling face of Judah King.

"Let me take him," he says. "You eat." I glance down the long row of tables flanked by my sister's family and friends, who are all watching us with a knowing gleam in their eyes.

"No," I whisper. "They'll talk."
(Continues...)


Excerpted from the OUTCAST by JOLINA PETERSHEIM. Copyright © 2013 by 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.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 44 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(32)

4 Star

(12)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 44 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 4, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Wow! Not since reading Cantrell's "Into the Free," hav

    Wow! Not since reading Cantrell's "Into the Free," have I been so emotionally moved by a story. There were so many things that this author did well. Her writing style is emotionally evocative, and her words are expressed with such beauty that I became fully immersed in the book. Her use of characters to bring out different truths was sheer perfection. I especially loved how she used Amos's point of view from the "great cloud of witnesses" as a way of showing omniscience, but in a much more compelling fashion that is typically seen in fiction. It added more complexity and depth to the plot and revealed things the reader might otherwise not have known.




    The way the author slowly trickled in the facts that led up to the night Rachel's world imploded from one bad decision was extremely well done. It drew my attention like a mystery plot and kept me wondering, until a surge of emotion hit me when secret was brought to light and the truth finally came out. The serious illness was a perfect conduit to provoke the needed revelation. The suffering Rachel felt while her son suffered was deep and profoundly written.




    I loved Judah so much for so many reasons. His undying devotion going back to their childhood made him so heroic in my eyes. The pain he felt and the forgiveness he extended -- after releasing the anger that seemed very natural given the unsavory revelation -- made me want to weep for him. Even Tobias made my heart ache because of the true repentance he experienced. What a difference it can make when we own our actions and stop blaming others for our own sins, eh?




    To sum things up, this was a fantastic book. In fact, of all the books that I've read this year, I think this one makes the top of my list. I read this entire book in a day. The premise intrigued me, but I've read many story plots that sounded great, but were weak in their execution. This was a powerful story on many levels. It is not a cookie cutter Amish/Mennonite plot, but unique and enthralling... for me as a reader. I normally won't read fiction about strict religious orders be they Amish or Mennonite, but this book surpassed my expectations. What a fantastic debut!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2014

    Anonymous

    I enjoyed reading this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2014

    Breathtaking Read

    God is good all the time, never changing. This novel is one you won't want it put down. Character development AAAA+! THANK YOU !

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 3, 2014

    Outcast is different from other Amish and Mennonite books I have

    Outcast is different from other Amish and Mennonite books I have read. And I have read many many of them. Which I find really refreshing to read something a little different. I found it to be heart wrenching most of the time. I found myself moved to tears in many areas of the book. What a beautiful story of forgiveness. So powerful! So many twists and turns, I didn’t know what else was going to happen when I tuned the next page. 
    I believe this a great debut for this author. I think she has a long career ahead. I will definitely be excited when her next release comes out. Hopefully, that will be sooner than later. 
    Highly highly recommended! 5 stars

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 25, 2013

    This is the first book in a while that I was emotionally moved b

    This is the first book in a while that I was emotionally moved by. I was hooked from the first page. Told in alternating voices of Rachel and Amos (Tobias's dad who passed away.) The story starts in the middle where Rachel already gave birth to her child and is feeling the scorn of the Mennonite Community. She is on her own and went to Tennessee to visit her twin sister who is on bed rest while pregnant. While staying in her sister's home, her brother in law, Tobias wants Rachel to leave the home. At the first chance Tobias gets he separates Rachel from her twin asking her to leave. Rachel starts to make a new life for herself and her son, but soon realizes she needs those she left behind. The Outcast gets better and better with each page.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2014

    Interesting

    Very good book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 14, 2014

    Outstanding Debut Novel! Jolina Petersheim has authored a b


    Outstanding Debut Novel!




    Jolina Petersheim has authored a brilliant debut novel portraying a pregnant, unmarried, Old Order Mennonite girl, and the resultant incriminations and repercussions her condition has elicited from her family and community members. She has been rejected and forsaken for committing adultery, but she refuses to divulge the identification of the man who fathered her unborn child. Sheltered and fostered by a former Mennonite woman, she finds peace and a safe haven. Heartrending events wreak havoc as additional adversities complicate her life. Her faith is shattered and hope is elusive as adversity and anguish besiege her. 




    The Outcast is written with expertise, proficiency, perception and sensitivity. Drawing from her Mennonite heritage the author has firsthand experience and understanding of her subject matter. Written with sophistication, conviction and discernment, the success of this novel is undeniable. The authenticity of the events throughout this narrative confirm that research and experience are beyond question. Elements of doubting God are replaced with forgiveness, faith, hope and assurance. I highly recommend this eloquently written book of Amish fiction and look forward to many more books by this ingenious new author. 




    Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Book Fun through the For Readers Only program, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own, and no monetary compensation was received for this review.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 2, 2014

    The Outcast is one of the best recent Amish books I have read. F

    The Outcast is one of the best recent Amish books I have read. For a first book, Jolina Petersheim is a brilliant author. She is able to keep you on the edge of your seat. It is a book you keep saying, I'll do it after one more chapter, and it just never gets done until the book is done. The story revolves around a girl,Rachel,being shunned by her family and the whole community unless she repents. But in repenting a secret would be revealed that will cause more hurt to the family and community. So Rachel decides to keep the secret. The story incorporates how pride, anger, secrets, forgiveness, bitterness, and misunderstanding can all occur when dealing with guilt. Rachel is helped by Englishers to survive in the English world. Overall, it is an excellent book. I can't wait to read Jolina's next book The Midwife.I recieved the book from the Book Club Network in exchange for a honest opinion.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 5, 2014

    A Modern version of The Scarlett Letter, The OUTCAST Rachel Stol

    A Modern version of The Scarlett Letter, The OUTCAST Rachel Stoltzfus, a young single Mennonite woman finds herself pregnant and refuses to name the vadder of her child. She feels the wrath of the pious community and her family as they withdraw from her so she would "see the error of her ways." 
    Leah King, Rachel's twin sister, is married to Tobias King and he wants Rachel gone. Judah King is Rachel's childhood friend and refuses to shun her and asks her to marry him and leave the community. Ida Mae is the proprietor of Ida Mae's Amish Store and is also a driver for the Mennonite and Amish.
    After Eli, Rachel's son is born, her sister continues to be ill and winds up in the hospital. Rachel is ordered to leave the community for Leah's sake. Ida Mae is her driver and invites her to live with her. 
    The Outcast is a look into the hypocrisy we all must be wary of. How often are we ourselves guilty as we try to cover our own flaws and faults. It reminds us that forgiveness is only possible when we acknowledge our sin and repent. 
    I received this book free for an honest review from Tyndale House Publishers.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 2, 2014

    The Outcast By: Jolina Petersheim You will love this book one o

    The Outcast
    By: Jolina Petersheim

    You will love this book one of those you start reading and you can’t put it down. I loved the characters the way Jolina wrote them you would think they were real. The story keeps you wanting to read a story of betrayal and tragedy. Will she have the strength to forgive? Think here she is Rachel Stolzfus from a Mennonite family having a child and not being married. Is being shunned by her people. Will forgiveness come through. This is a emotional story. I love how Jolina writes and will look forward to her next book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 25, 2013

    Excellent read!

    I have to say that this was the best book that i have read in a very long time. This book has it's sad parts (you will need a box of tissues). It is a book of betrayal and forgiveness. I found the book difficult to put down, and i am anxiously awaiting her next book, "the midwife" which is due to be out soon. Please read this book, you won' t be disappointed!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 25, 2013

    The Outcast is one of the few Amish fiction books I have read bu

    The Outcast is one of the few Amish fiction books I have read but it is absolutely the best! I loved the way Ms. Petersheim uses a character to be the third person narrator throughout the story. She incorporates the present with the heavenly and gives the reader a preview into the heart motives behind each character. It is done brilliantly and in such a way that although the reader would like to hate certain characters, they cannot help but feel sympathetic toward them. It is a fantastic way of displaying the way hurt can motivate actions of self-preservation.

    When Rachel Stoltzfus’ greatest sin is made public, she has the choice to repent or be expelled from her community. She is a good girl and has always been obedient. But when one mistake changes everything, Rachel feels the abandonment of those she trusted most, including the God she thought she knew. Knowing she is guilty but does not bear the guilt alone, Rachel’s pride keeps her from repentance and fear keeps her from telling the truth. Rachel leans on her own understanding and tries to protect those she loves with silence, even at the expense of losing her best friend, her sister, Leah. Without her repentance, Rachel cannot continue to exist in the world she has known her whole life. But pride, anger and bitterness keep Rachel from repentance and she is forced into the world of the Englischers and an eccentric woman named Ida Mae. Together these two strong women find healing from their pasts when all is stripped away and the life of an innocent hangs in the balance.

    True love seems to evade Rachel and because of her sins, she does not feel worthy to receive it. Love is the strongest of all however, and it will pursue her. She has to decide if she can lay down her own self-loathing long enough to find healing in forgiveness.

    Secrets meant to protect become prisons of misunderstandings. Can all of those involved forgive before it is too late? The Outcast is an excellent book and I would highly recommend it! I look forward to Ms. Petersheim’s next book, The Midwife. I received this book from the The Book Club Network and Tyndale Publishing in exchange for my honest opinion.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 13, 2013

    "The Outcast" is a great story that starts out with an

    "The Outcast" is a great story that starts out with an intriguing and attention grabbing statement and it continued to grab my attention throughout the rest of the book. This modern retelling of "The Scarlet Letter" is both entertaining and heartbreaking. Every one of us sins and yet very few of us would be willing to stand up in front of an unloving community and expose our dirty laundry, yet that seems to be what is expected of Rachel, the main character in "The Outcast." In order to be forgiven Rachel must make a public confession of her sins, and publicly name the father of her child. She knows that giving his name will bring pain, heartache and troubles to many others around her.

    New author, Jolina Petersheim, writes this story in a very different way. It is narrated by Rachel, and also by Amos. I struggled a bit with Amos' part initially, as he is a dead man, but Petersheim made it work quite well.

    "The Outcast" shows how sin can bring out the worst in some people, and the best in others. While forgiveness can ease the pain of sin, there are still consequences to sin. This book is an enjoyable read that will touch your heart!

    I received this book from Book Club Network in exchange for my honest opinion.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 8, 2013

    The Outcast, Jolina Petersheim This was a fabulous book about

    The Outcast, Jolina Petersheim
    This was a fabulous book about being an outcast, the black sheep of the family or in this case the outcast of the whole community. Rachel Stoltzfus moves to Tennessee to be with her sister and her family in order to help care for her. But she soon finds herself pregnant and unwed. This is a big no-no in the Old Order Mennonite community. When she is exiled she is taken in by the owner of the local Amish Store, where she is welcomed and loved despite her sin. Her newborn son Eli is diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Eli’s only hope is a bone marrow transplant. But in order to have it Rachel will have to tell her deep dark secret of who the father is.
    Part of this story is told by the recently deceased Bishop Amos King. Who happens to be in heaven and the father to the new Bishop. He has an interesting view of the situation. I enjoyed his view of the infidelity and tragedy that takes place.
    The author Jolina Petersheim did a great job of retelling The Scarlett Letter. The characters are believable and engaging. I was drawn in and had a hard time putting this book down. Read this great book to experience betrayal and the glory found in forgiveness.
    A big high-five goes to the author Jolina Petrersheim and publisher for bringing compelling Christian books that are entertaining and give hope to the reader with stories of faith. The Book Club Network Inc. provided me with this book in exchange for my honest review and I am so grateful for their generosity.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 29, 2013

    An emotional journey as the Scarlet Letter is retold. Rachel St

    An emotional journey as the Scarlet Letter is retold.

    Rachel Stolztfus is living in an old order Mennonite community which quickly rejects her as her sin of sexual impurity becomes obvious. She will tell no one who the father of her child,Eli, is. She will not tell her twin, Leah, wanting to protect her from knowledge both destructive and hurtful. She also refuses to tell Judah King, the young man who has loved her since childhood. The new bishop, Leah's husband, bans Rachel from the King house and the community. Moving to another area, living with an unlikely lady, Rachel begins to find comfort and hope as she battles bitterness vs. forgiveness; secrecy vs. honesty that can save her son's life; and acceptance of real love rather than the envy of a relationship that wasn' t what it seemed. Surprisingly, others have kept secrets that have contributed to the whole " unholy" situation, and must decide how to resolve their issues to the betterment of all.




    It's been said that third person point of view is one of the least well-received types of writing. Petersheim gets around this cleverly. She bounces back and forth between narration by Rachel and narration by Amos King, newly deceased bishop and father of both Judah and Leah's husband, Tobias. Amos has keen insight into his sons' characters, and a little bit of a broader perspective only one who could sea the bigger picture could have. Truly a great writing ploy. By the time I had finished the book, I felt like I had emotionally been put through one of those old- fashioned wringer washers that Rachel might have used. Fortunately, I also felt like Petersheim hung the reader's emotions out to dry on a clothesline on a warm, sunny day, with the promise of a warm, drying wind to come.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 19, 2013

    Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings A modern retell

    Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings

    A modern retelling of the Scarlet Letter, but with a fantastic twist.  It isn't just modern it takes the story into a community where sex out of wedlock is a major no no, so it heightens the story to the next level.  The author made a perfect twist of fate into the story to allow for the father of this child to have to come out in the public and own up to his part of the whole fiasco.  

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 18, 2013

    Wow! Who knew Christian fiction could be this good. From the mom

    Wow! Who knew Christian fiction could be this good. From the moment you step into this story, you will be hooked. The author did an incredible job of providing diverse points of view. The characters are unique and identifiable. After reading this book, you will have a clearer take on the human condition and on the impact of love. (4 of 5 Stars)

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2013

    Excellent!!!! A real page turner!!!

    Just finish this book in paperback. Great story - a page turner!!! Another great book by another Tennessee author is "The Partisan" by William Jarvis. It is only 99 cents on the Nook right now. Both books deserve A+++++++

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 31, 2013

    From the cover of the book this work is being touted as a retell

    From the cover of the book this work is being touted as a retelling of The Scarlet Letter with an Amish setting. Just as the original the themes that permeate the story are that of legalism, sin and guilt. Unlike the original Rachel is not made to wear an outward sign marking her as an adulteress but she still becomes an outcast especially when she refuses to name the father of her child.




    There are other similarities that I will leave up to you to find so as not to give away too much of the plot line. I do have to say that after the beginning of the novel the storyline quickly deviates from the original. If you are a purist this may upset you but for me I thoroughly enjoyed how Ms. Petersheim made the story her own. I’ll give you a little hint . . . this telling ends much better than the original.




    Even though this is her debut novel I found it to be well crafted. The storyline moved along quickly with enough detail to make sense but not get bogged down in the trivial. I enjoyed the complexity of the characters and at the end of the story I was already wondering what happened next. Jolina Petersheim is definitely a name I will be looking for.




    I received a book to facilitate my review.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 29, 2013

    Although this book says on the front that it is a retelling of T

    Although this book says on the front that it is a retelling of The Scarlet Letter, I found there were only a few similarities - such as Rachel refuses to name the father of her child. Instead I found an wonderful book about identical Mennonite twins, Rachel and Leah, who love each other so much yet keep getting separated from each other by different things. They both have young sons and have much in their past to understand and forgive. This book has so much woven through it - forgiveness, love, revenge - that I found it absolutely fascinating. Part of it is written through the eyes of Amos, who is dead so he sees it all, but it is really more like that part is being written by a narrator, and then the other part is written through the eyes of Rachel. I really recommend this book!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 44 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)