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Beside Still Waters: A Big Sky Novel

Beside Still Waters: A Big Sky Novel

4.5 13
by Tricia Goyer

Raised among the Amish of Indiana, 18-year-old Marianna Sommer plans to get baptized into the church, marry Aaron Zook, and set up life in the only community she has ever known. But when her older brother chooses the world’s path following his rumschpringe, and a younger sibling begins showing interest in Englisch ways, Marianna’s parents move the


Raised among the Amish of Indiana, 18-year-old Marianna Sommer plans to get baptized into the church, marry Aaron Zook, and set up life in the only community she has ever known. But when her older brother chooses the world’s path following his rumschpringe, and a younger sibling begins showing interest in Englisch ways, Marianna’s parents move the family to Montana.

Although she is also in her rumschpringe years and not obligated to move, Marianna makes the journey to dutifully help her mother who is expecting another child. Surprisingly, from strangers on the cross-country train ride to the less rigid stance of the new Montana community, many Englisch influences awaken within Marianna—and even her father—the desire to pursue a deeper kind of joy and love for God.

After an accident, Marianna tells her friend Ben a defining story about the Sommer family, and his response further illumines the active relationship God seeks with His followers. In due time, she learns the move from Indiana was not about losing anything, but finding out who God really is. Despite all the shake-ups, Marianna feels a sweet peace, like still waters, in her soul.


"A wonderful story about the Amish and the way they live their lives by the writings of the Bible . . . Goyer is a talented author . . . Readers will delight in this."

--RT Book Reviews (4 stars)

"I was transported into the world of the Amish. Tricia's expressive storytelling and vivid descriptions drew me into the heartache and joy of the characters as if they were real people. So compelling."

Robin Jones Gunn, author of the Christy Miller series

"A sweet, tender tale that's sure to please readers. Amish fiction fans will be wanting more from Ms. Goyer!"

Kathleen Fuller, AmishHearts.com

"Only a gifted writer like Tricia Goyer could present such a captivating story about a group of Amish forging a new community in Montana. Tricia writes in such a way that the reader can't wait to turn the page and learn more about main character Marianna's experience. Tricia's talent for connecting our heart to Marianna's plight also connects us to our need for one another. Beside Still Waters draws you in with its genuine characters, and it holds you there with its enduring bonds of love and family."

Suzanne Woods Fisher, best-selling author of the Lancaster County Series

"A moving and gentle story that touched my heart and stirred my soul. I'm recommending Beside Still Waters to all my friends who enjoy Amish fiction."

Marlo Schalesky, author of Christy-award winning Beyond the Night and Shades of Morning

"Goyer's story is ultimately a journey toward faith . . . The described scenery is luscious, the enclosed recipes are fun, and the questions about faith and lifestyle choice are very real."

"A sweet, entertaining tale."

Home with Purpose

Product Details

B&H Publishing Group
Publication date:
Big Sky Series , #1
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

Tricia Goyer is an acclaimed and prolific writer, publishing hundreds of articles in national magazines including Today’s Christian Woman and Focus on the Family while authoring more than twenty-five fiction and nonfiction books combined. Among those are 3:16 Teen Edition with Max Lucado and

the American Christian Fiction Writers’ Book of the Year Award winners

Night Song and Dawn of a Thousand Nights. She has also written books on marriage and parenting and contributed notes to the Women of Faith Study Bible. Tricia lives with her husband and four children in Montana.

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Beside Still Waters: A Big Sky Novel 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Jen_McCade More than 1 year ago
In Beside Still Waters, author Tricia Goyer takes the reader on a journey into an aspect of Amish life that few people consider: What happens to the people of such a tightly knit community when tragedy strikes? Born on the same night her two older sisters were killed in a buggy accident, Marianna Sommers has tried to replace them in her parents' lives. Marianna is caught between her duty to honor and respect her parents and her own desires to enjoy the courtship of the man she loves. If she refuses to relocate to an Amish settlement in Montana with them, Marianna would disappoint her parents and cause yet another loss to their family, something that she can't bear to do. And yet, Aaron Zook has built a cabin on his land; a cabin for her if she'll just stay and be his bride. As Marianna seeks to find peace with her decision, she finds something else that she never even knew was missing: the peace that she finds beside still waters. I enjoyed this story immensely. The characters were presented realistically, with a lot of variety in personalities, which is something that is often missing in books with an Amish setting. Marianna is compelling as she seeks to understand the nuances of her life and the affect that the tragedy of the night of her birth had on her, and continues to have on her family. I also enjoyed the setting, since as readers we don't often see Amish outside of Pennsylvania or Ohio. This is the first of Tricia Goyer's books I have read, but I will certainly look for more of them. A sequel to this book, Along Wooded Paths will be published in October, 2011, and is available for pre-order. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for my review.
MaureenST More than 1 year ago
What a great book, couldn't put it down. Marianna Sommer's world is turned upside down when her Dat decides to move the family to Montana. Marianna has been hoping Aaron Zook would start courting her, and wants to join the church. She is torn about what to do! Loved the descriptions of the beautiful Montana countryside. Sounds like a beautiful place to live. All of the people there seem to be so kind, and now Marianna has started to develop a personal relationship with God. One that seems to surprise her and make her wonder if she is going against her Amish upbring. Loved that there is going to be a sequel to this book....it also includes some yummy recipes. I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and B&H Publishing Group, I was not required to give a positive review.
Cindy-Huff7 More than 1 year ago
Beside Still Waters Beside Still Waters by Tricia Goyer was a delight. Having interacted with the Amish I was not disappointed in this well-crafted book. Tricia has done her research and it shows in her descriptions of life in the two very different Amish communities. Tricia story touches the heart of every believer. Prejudice and legalism are explored along with living up to preconceived expectations of others. Marianne was born the night her family's buggy is hit by a semi-truck instantly killing her two older sisters. Sadness and loss hang over the family causing her to feel the need to be as perfect as she can in an effort to replace her dead sisters. Moving from Indiana to a new Amish community in Montana transforms the family. These communities are quite different. Not only is the geography and the weather different but the interaction with the Englisch (non-Amish) is startling to her. As she makes new friends both Englisch and Amish she discovers her own heart of faith is frailer than she realized. Her emotions take a roller coaster ride between Ben, the Englisch woodworker and Aaron the almost fiancé she left behind in Indiana. Having Englisch friends opens her eyes to her many misconceptions of them. Learning to adjust to her new way of life challenges her. Watching her family find joy and pleasure in life and one another makes her question all the old traditions. Learning from Englisch believers a faith more intimate deepens her own. I found myself enthralled with the story and sad to see it come to an end. The chapter teaser at the end of the book has me anxious to read the sequel.
HeathersStitches More than 1 year ago
Raised among the Amish of Indiana, 18-year-old Marianna Sommer plans to get baptized into the church, marry Aaron Zook, and set up life in the only community she has ever known. But when her older brother chooses the world's path following his rumschpringe, and a younger sibling begins showing interest in Englisch ways, Marianna's parents move the family to Montana.Although she is also in her rumschpringe years and not obligated to move, Marianna makes the journey to dutifully help her mother who is expecting another child. Surprisingly, from strangers on the cross-country train ride to the less rigid stance of the new Montana community, many Englisch influences awaken within Marianna-and even her father-the desire to pursue a deeper kind of joy and love for God.After an accident, Marianna tells her friend Ben a defining story about the Sommer family, and his response further illumines the active relationship God seeks with His followers. In due time, she learns the move from Indiana was not about losing anything, but finding out who God really is. Despite all the shake-ups, Marianna feels a sweet peace, like still waters, in her soul. This is a start to a great new Amish Series. I really felt for Marianna during her move to Montana and having to start fresh with friendships and the loss of everything she left back home. I found it similar to what we are going thru here since we moved from OH to FL. Marianna has a tuogh time making some very adult decisions but in the end she makes the right ones for her and her family. I will be looking for the newest one soon.
ChristysBookBlog More than 1 year ago
Beside Still Waters by Tricia Goyer is the first book in the Big Sky series. Marianna Sommer has lived every moment of her nearly nineteen years knowing that she had to make up for the two sisters who died in a tragic accident the night she was born. Despite the children born after her, there is still a heavy grief that lies on the Sommer family. And it has only grown since eldest son Levi has left the Amish faith. Marianna has always known that she wanted to marry Aaron Zook and he has finally made his move to let he know he cares for her, but it just may be too late. Marianna's father has decided to uproot the entire family to Montana in hopes of making a new start and breaking free of their tragic past. Marianna is furious at her father's decision, but once in Montana, she sees a happiness on her mother's face that she's never witnessed. She finds a job at an Englisch store, and quickly makes friends with an Englisch man that she can't seem to get out of her thoughts, despite missing Aaron and desperately wanting to return to Indiana. Marianna has to decide whether to live in the past or finally move into her own life. This is Goyer's first Amish book, and she does a remarkable job of interpreting their culture and faith. Marianna is a empathetic character that readers will ache for as she tries to make up for two lives lost in just her one person. Goyer's love for her home state of Montana is evident in the beautiful and lush descriptions of the scenery, as well as the different culture of the people who live there. Ben and Marianna make a fascinating couple, and I'm interested to see where Goyer takes them in the next book.
ForstRose More than 1 year ago
If you are a Goyer fan she has once again given readers a new reason to love her work despite being a newcomer to this genre. If you are an Amish fiction fan she has expanded your options in a focused genre and you may just discover a new favorite author with a backlist that will last you beyond the release of her second Big Sky novel this fall. The characters and setting Tricia has crafted in this novel grabbed me from the first page to the last. Her stories always contain sufficient action and progression of a story that I never feel stuck in a rut reading them. The pacing and characters make me as a reader desire more but not because the story is lacking any important elements or padding the word count with embellished language or rich descriptions which stunt the progression of events. Lush descriptions and picturesque settings in this author's novels always prove a treasure trove to readers rather than a detriment to the story. Beside Still Waters has introduced a new genre to Goyer's bibliography that will stretch readers of the genre as well as readers of Goyer's work to embrace the unfamiliar and perhaps expand their list of favorites with either a new author or new type of novel.
Heart2Heart More than 1 year ago
It's not often you hear stories of an Amish family picking up from where their generations have always lived to move to a place that they have never been before, but that is exactly what Marianna Sommer's family plans to do. Even if it's something she doesn't want at eighteen. Her older brother Levi was different from most Amish boys who attend rumschpringe. It allows the youth to see the world outside and experience things from the Englisch world before making their commitment and being baptized as an Amish boy or girl. Yet Levi wouldn't return. His ways were different from the Amish and he desired something different. It was that along with the accident that have kept their parents bound with unhappiness at times. Her sisters Marianne and Johanna died when her father fell asleep at the reins of their buggy one night. It was also the night she was born, a new daughter to replace the two that would die that same night. No matter how hard Marianna tried, she could never be good enough for her parents, even if she did find the perfect Amish boy in Aaron. Would that even matter? When her parents pack up their belongings after her younger brothers begin to show signs of leaving the Amish family like Levi did, they feel that a change might do them all good. So they head off to Montana to live with their Uncle Ike and about to see things are a whole lot different there. I received the book Beside Still Waters by Tricia Goyer,compliments of Litfuse Publicity for my honest review. This book show that change even though difficult at times can bring about renewed faith, hope and love. It shows us that God will still meet us wherever we are and we can find a personal relationship with Him, no matter where our family decides to live. God will meet us there. This book offers redemption for the Sommer family that seems to live in a cycle of loss. Loss of children, loss of a lifestyle, loss of a relationship with God at times, but what they find there will show them that despite everything, God will lead them beside still waters and find His grace in the most unexpected of places. A 5 out of 5 stars, must read!
jb70 More than 1 year ago
I received this book as part of a Litfuse blog tour for honest review purposes. For awhile now I have been curious about Amish life. Growing up my family used to occasionally visit my aunt and uncle who live near Lancaster. I recall seeing people riding in a horse and buggy for the first time on one of our visits and hving a lot of questions about why they were traveling that way and also wondering if it was safe with all the cars and traffic. At the start of this novel a young family is traveling home at night in a horse and buggy. There are two little girls asleep in the back while a pregnant mother holds a little boy in the front with her husband. With all of his passengers asleep, the father is feeling sleepy too and accidently drifts off. The buggy is hit by a truck and the two girls are killed and the mother goes into premature labor. This is how Marianna, the main character, starts her life within her Amish family. This one tragedy puts a lot of other things into motion for this family. After the prologue the story starts back up with Marianna at the age of nineteen. Mari and her family live in Indiana in a very close Amish community. Everyone watches each other to make sure that they are following the laws and are behaving appropriately, but the watching is to the point of being suffocating. I've always had this picture of Amish people as being very religious and ready to help one another, which they were in this book, but at the same time it was almost as if they are afraid to do anything except in the predescribved way because everyone else will be talking about it. For years Mari's mother got up super early so her wash could be on the line first thing in the morning so all her neighbors would see that she was doing her duty to her family. Mari feels that she needs to try to take the place of the two sisters she lost in the accident and goes out of her way to try to be perfect. A hearbreak for the family is that Levi, Mari's older brother, has chosen to leave the community and to live out in society. Not only are they heartbroken about this, but they feel shame from the rest of community for this. Mari's Uncle Ike convinces her parents that they should move to Montana for a while and they decide to go. Mari is conflicted becuase she has always thought that she would be being batised into the church adn getting ready to marry Aaron. She decides, however, that it is her duty to go with her pregnant mother to help her settle into her new home and to help her younger siblings (three boys and one girl with another on the way) get accustomed to their new home. Montana has a different feel to it. The Amish community is smaller, but still works together and other members of the community are juist as likely to lend a hand and be charitable which really surprised Mari. Her idea of what people are like outside of the Amish comminity is set on its ear. Her old neighbors and friends keep hearing gossip and tidbits about how relaxced the rules are in Montanta nad worry that they will be led astray and might not be able to find their way back to God. Mari becomes frinds with Ben, who is not Amish, and feels very conflicted about what to do with this relationship. She has grown up feeling that to be close to God one must follow the Amish church, but at the smae time she is meeting people who act as if God is their friend. Ben reads his Bible regularly and prays outloud. He goes out of his way to help pe
kittycrochettwo More than 1 year ago
Marianna Summer's life started out on a tragic night when her two older sisters were killed in a horrible accident. At the age of nineteen she has always felt as if she doesn't really measure up, after all how can one life replace two, but she does her best to be a dutiful, helpful Amish daughter. While she isn't engaged to Amos Zook it is sort of understood that they are together, he is building them a house and they will eventually marry. When her dad decides to leave their Amish community in Indiana for a fresh start in Montana, she tells Amos that she will only stay for six months to help her mother with the baby that is to be born and then will come home. Will she return after six months, or will she find a different life in Montana? I am a huge fan of Amish fiction and was excited to read an amish story written by Tricia Goyer, a very talented author whose work I have always admired. I feel like in "Beside Still Waters" she really outdid herself. She takes the very popular genre of Amish fiction and gives it a very fresh perspective, by allowing us to see the characters as real, with real problems. Her story didn't idealize the Amish life, and make English life bad, instead by allowing Marianna to learn about Christianity, we easily see the similarities and differences between the two worlds. The setting was fresh as well. Instead of taking place in Ohio or Pennsylvania she takes us to Montana, and her descriptions were outstanding, making you feel as if you were right there. The characters are easy to like, and it was nice to see Marianna's character develop and grow throughout the story.Fans of Amish fiction will love this one, but even if the Amish Genre isn't your cup of tea, give this one a try because Tricia Goyer is a master story teller who adds a breath of fresh air to this one! A perfect kick off for the Big Sky Series, that left me wanting more! A complimentary copy of this book was provided for an honest review.
snidbits More than 1 year ago
Marianna feels she's a constant reminder to her parents of the children they lost. She was born on the night her two sisters died and is unable to think they're comparing her to them. "How can one replace two?" often runs through her mind. Her father has been talking about moving the family to Montana in search of a fresh start but Marianna doesn't want to leave what's familiar to her. Or Aaron Zook. Aaron has made his intentions clear of marriage but what will happen if she moves away? He tells her he'll wait six months and if she hasn't returned by then, he'll know she won't be coming back. Marianna is torn. She decides to go with her family long enough for her newest sibling to be born and then leave once her mother is back on her feet. She never expected to like Montana. Or to meet someone like Ben. Ben's not Amish but Marianna is drawn to him. He talks about God differently than her father or the bishop. And he actually prays aloud instead of the silent prayers she's used to. Entertaining thoughts of more than friendship would go against everything she's known. Yet Ben continues to come to her rescue when she needs him. More than anything else, Marianna wants to find peace. I really enjoyed this book! I wasn't sure what to expect since I've not read any other books by Goyer but I found myself pulled into the story. I read an unedited version so I found that to be a little distracting but it didn't take away from the story too much. I really liked Ben. One of my favorite scenes would be of him and Marianna as he's showing her how to play the guitar. She mentioned feeling something as she listened to him sing and I love that! Music has this ability to convey what we're unable to speak and that's what I imagine Ben's music did. I didn't like the ending because she left several things hanging but there will hopefully be a sequel to continue Marianna's story : )
LovenGod More than 1 year ago
Tricia Goyer 2010 (Release April 2011) B & H Fiction Fiction/Christian/Contemporary Reviewed by Cindy Loven The Sommer family, have been in the 'spotlight' of their Indiania Amish community for years, in fact everyone in their community was in the spotlight for each other. Watching each other to make sure they were living strict, holy lives, following the Ordnung. It could be suffocating sometimes, however. The horrible accident that had cost the Sommer family their two oldest daughters, and brought on the early birth of Marianna, kept them in the eyes of the other members of their community. Marianna, nearly twenty now had lived her whole life feeling that she never measured up to her sisters who died. However she was a good Amish girl, following the rules and obeying her parents in all things. Even when it meant leaving behind her possible husband and going hundreds of miles away to a new home in Minnesota. So much about Minnesota was different than her life back home, that she really didn't know how to react to any of it. It seemed there was way too much interaction between the Amish and the English. And even the ways of the Amish seemed so different. Marianna was not sure why she was in Minnesota, but she knew that she was changing, in fact her whole family was changing, and she was not sure she could handle that. This is the first Amish book from Tricia Goyer and it is unlike any other Amish story I have ever read. The rules of the Amish are not a key part of this story as they often are in other stories. I enjoyed this book, and think fans of Amish stories and non-Amish story fans alike will enjoy this book! 320 pages $14.99 4 stars. This book was provided for review purposes only, no payment was received for this review.
mrsred49 More than 1 year ago
Marrianne Sommer was born on the day her two sisters were killed in a buggy/eighteen wheeler accident. The parents and children were on their way home when Abe the father kept dozing off and before he knew it the accident happened. Marrianne was name for the two sisters and her older brother Levi was only three at the time. Now Levi is grown and has left home for an English life style, Marrianne is (sort of) dating Amos Zook, even though he had never dated her, there was just and understanding. He was building them a house but she had never saw it. Abe had taken all he could at their home in Indiana and wanted to move to Montana where his brother lived. They packed up everything and moved to a new way of life. The Amish were few in this area and they mixed in with the English. Marrianne had told Amos that she was only staying six months and she would return home to him, but will she? Everything was different here in Montana the homes were far apart and there was no place to farm so what was Abe going to do? Marrianne went to work and was getting involved with an Englich man named Billy, he was a driver for the Amish but didn't know many of their ways. Will the family decide to stay in Montana or will they go back to their seventy acre farm in Indiana? This book was different than a lot of the Amish books I have read, as in this one they mingled with the Enblich a lot more than most of the ones did, from the other Authors. This is the first Amish book Tricia Goyer has written but she has plenty other books under her belt. Good book. This book was sent to me free from B & H Publishing for my honest review.
Its_Time_Mamaw More than 1 year ago
This story begins when the Sommer family are on there way home from a church meeting. They are an Amish family traveling by way of horse and buggy. They cross a busy road and are in a terrible accident that will change their lives forever. Two of their little girls are killed in this accident and a baby girl is forced to come into this world under harsh circumstance. Their young son also survives. Marianne was that baby and she has been trying walk in the shoes of her two sister ever since day of that tragic accident. She thought if she worked hard and played the dutiful daughter it would ease the loss of that day. Her brother feels as if he should not have survived that day and has left the Amish to live among the Englisch. The family is reminded of the accident everyday by the stares and whispers of the Amish Community. So they decide to relocate to a new Amish community forming in Colorado where they are not labeled by tragic day. Marianne agrees to go with her family leaving behind a fiance and the hope of a new life. She only plans to stay until her family is settled in their new home. She starts to fall in love with Colorado and God's amazing hand at such beauty. Then she reaches a relationship with God she had never imagined possible. She begins to question whether to stay or go back to her fiance and the life she left behind. Wanting to make sure she does whatever is God's will. There are so many beautiful other characters in this story that I will let you discover on your own. I feel as if I have said too much already. I read this book before I read book two, Along Wooded Paths in the series. I am glad I did. I highly recommend them both. I give this book a rating of 5 out of 5. Disclosure: I got a copy of this book from the author on NetGalley. I was in no way compensated for this review. This is my own opinion.