The Hope Jar

The Hope Jar

by Wanda E. Brunstetter

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Overview

A Brand-New Series from New York Times Bestselling Author Wanda E. Brunstetter.
What happens when making an elderly Amish couple very happy means going along with a lie that gets bigger by the day?

Michelle Taylor is not who her new family in Lancaster County believes her to be. The Lapps were looking for their long-lost granddaughter when they met Michelle and she assumed the identity of Sara Murray. Once homeless and hopeless, Michelle has come to love her new Amish friends and even considers the idea of romance among them.

Finding an old blue jar in the barn that is filled with slips of paper containing thoughts, quotes, and prayers by an unknown author becomes a boost to Michelle’s budding faith— but also convicting. How can she tell the truth without hurting the ones she has truly come to love?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781683229100
Publisher: Barbour Publishing, Incorporated
Publication date: 08/01/2018
Series: Prayer Jars , #1
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 9,570
File size: 861 KB

About the Author

New York Times bestselling and award-winning author Wanda E. Brunstetter is one of the founders of the Amish fiction genre. She has written close to 90 books translated in four languages.  With over 10 million copies sold, Wanda's stories consistently earn spots on the nation's most prestigious bestseller lists and have received numerous awards.

Wanda’s ancestors were part of the Anabaptist faith, and her novels are based on personal research intended to accurately portray the Amish way of life. Her books are well-read and trusted by many Amish, who credit her for giving readers a deeper understanding of the people and their customs.

When Wanda visits her Amish friends, she finds herself drawn to their peaceful lifestyle, sincerity, and close family ties. Wanda enjoys photography, ventriloquism, gardening, bird-watching, beachcombing, and spending time with her family. She and her husband, Richard, have been blessed with two grown children, six grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

To learn more about Wanda, visit her website at www.wandabrunstetter.com. 

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

One week later Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Michelle Taylor stared at the contents of her wallet and groaned. She barely had enough money to buy groceries this week, much less pay the rent that was due five days ago. She'd lost her job at a local coffee shop a month ago and hadn't been able to find another position. What little money she had saved went to pay last month's rent. Soon Mr. Henson would be hounding her for June's rent, and if she didn't come through, he'd probably throw her out in the street, like he had the last tenant.

Michelle looked around her shabby studio apartment. It came fully furnished but didn't include more than the basics — a few dishes and cooking utensils, a small kitchen table with two chairs, a well-used sofa, and a bed that pulled down from the wall. In the cramped kitchen area, peeling linoleum held little appeal, nor did the water-stained ceiling. The vinyl on the wall near the kitchen table had been ripped, and the chipped cabinet doors where she kept her canned goods hung askew. The rust-stained sink and crooked blinds on the window completed the gloomy picture in this room, not to mention the hum of the old refrigerator that just about drove her batty.

Then there was the pathetic bathroom. The toilet ran unless she shook the handle a couple of times. Chipped grout, blackened in places with sickening mold, made the faded tile behind the tub/shower combination anything but pleasing. Hard water stains covered the shower door, and some of the tiles on the floor had begun to buckle. The sink faucet dripped constantly, even though Michelle had tried several times to fix it — a job her landlord should have taken care of. There was nothing high class about this dwelling, but at least it gave Michelle a roof over her head — same as it did for the rest of the building's occupants. No one in this building was high class, most certainly not Michelle.

Emotionally and physically exhausted, she moved from the kitchen area and sank to the outdated, black, imitation-leather sofa. Leaning her head back, and using her fingertips, she massaged her throbbing forehead. What I should do is get out of Philly and make a new start somewhere else. Guess I could go back to Ohio and see if Al and Sandy will take me in again. Course, it's been so long they might have moved, or at the very least, taken in more foster kids, so they wouldn't have room for an unwanted guest.

Michelle hadn't seen her foster parents since she graduated from high school and went out on her own six years ago. She hadn't called or even sent a postcard to let them know where she was or how she was doing. "They probably wouldn't care anyhow," she muttered. "Truth be told, Sandy and Al were probably glad to get rid of me."

Michelle squeezed her eyes shut, wincing as her headache worsened. Shoulda kept my grades up in school. I may have had a chance at a college scholarship and might be workin' at a decent job by now. Guess this is what I get for being a know-it-all and running off the minute I got out of high school.

When Michelle left Columbus, she'd gone from town to town, taking whatever menial jobs she could find. When things went bad, or she ran low on money, she moved on, always searching — always hoping — wishing she could put down permanent roots. All Michelle had ever wanted was to feel loved and accepted — to feel like she truly belonged. Of course, it was only wishful thinking. At the rate things were going, she'd never have a place she could call "home" and mean it. It was doubtful Michelle would ever know what the love of a caring family was all about.

Her head jerked when someone pounded on the door. Oh great. I bet that's Mr. Henson, coming for the rent I don't have. If I don't answer, he'll think I'm not here and go away. She sat perfectly still and didn't make a sound.

The pounding continued. "Michelle! Come on, sweetie, I know you're in there, so open this door."

Relieved that it wasn't Mr. Henson after all, she called, "Coming, Jerry."

Michelle jumped up and hurried across the room. Jerry had been kind of edgy when he came to see her last night, and she didn't want him to make a scene outside her door. A few times before when she'd refused to let him in because he'd been drinking too much, he'd become loud and boisterous. After some of the other tenants complained about the noise, the grumpy landlord warned her that she would have to leave if it happened again.

Another loud knock on the door, and Michelle jerked it open. "Said I was coming. Didn't you hear me through the paper-thin door?"

Jerry's eyelids lowered as he stepped inside and slammed the door shut. "Yeah, I heard ya." He reached out and pulled her close.

Michelle smelled the rotten-egg scent of beer on his breath as soon as he kissed her, and she nearly gagged. Michelle had never acquired a taste for alcohol or appreciated the smell of it. The same thing held true for cigarette smoke. It wasn't that she thought she was too good for those things. They just made her feel sick.

"How'd your day go?" Jerry held Michelle so close she could barely breathe. "Did ya find another job yet?"

"No, I did not. Nobody seems to be hiring right now." Michelle pulled on her shirt collar. "And if I don't find something soon, I'll be kicked out of this apartment building for not paying the rent." She didn't let on that Jerry's yelling outside her door could also get her kicked out. He wouldn't think twice about threatening the landlord.

Jerry released his hold on her and sauntered across the room to the nearly empty refrigerator. "Ya got any beer?"

"No, and I hardly have any food either. If my luck doesn't change soon, I could end up living on the streets with all the other homeless people in this town."

Jerry raked his fingers through the ends of his curly brown hair. It looked like he hadn't washed it in several days. "You ain't gonna end up on the streets, sweetie, 'cause I want ya to move in with me. I told you that last night, remember?"

Michelle did remember. How could she forget? After she'd declined his offer, they'd had a big argument that ended with Jerry grabbing her so tight, she'd been left with bruises on both of her wrists.

"Michelle, did ya hear what I said?" Eyes narrowing, he got right in her face.

She nodded. "I'm just thinking, is all."

"Well, don't think too long. Just pack up your things and let's go. You'll be glad to say goodbye to this place."

"I told you last night that I'm thinking about leaving town — at least for a while. I may go back to Columbus to see my foster parents."

Jerry's brown eyes darkened as his nostrils flared. "And I said I don't want you to go anywhere but with me." His features softened a bit. "I'd miss you, baby. And you'd miss me too. Ya know you would."

Michelle twisted a strand of her long auburn hair around one finger. If she stayed in Philly and moved in with Jerry, he'd want more than she was ready to give him. They'd known each other less than a month, and even though Michelle was attracted to Jerry's good looks, his possessive nature worried her. Almost from the first night they'd met in a pool hall across town, he'd acted as if he owned Michelle. What worried her the most about Jerry, however, was his temper. In her early childhood years, she been the brunt of her parents' anger, until child services intervened and put Michelle and her brothers, Ernie and Jack, in foster care. Unfortunately, they had not all gone to the same home.

If a person could choose their parents, Michelle would certainly not have picked Herb and Ginny Taylor. Dad abused Mom physically and emotionally, and they both abused their kids. Michelle could still see her father standing over her with his belt raised, an angry scowl on his face over something he'd accused her of doing. He hadn't aimed for any particular spot. The belt connected wherever it landed, on her legs, arms, and back. He'd treated the boys just as harshly, often smacking them around until bruises or angry welts appeared.

Their mother was no better. She often pulled Michelle's hair and lashed out in anger. It was usually not because of anything Michelle had done wrong, but rather because Mom was mad at her husband.

One time, when Michelle had defended Ernie for something he'd been unjustly accused of, Mom screamed at Michelle, "Shut your big mouth!" Then she'd grabbed Michelle around the neck and tried to choke her. Fortunately, little Jack started bawling really loud, and Mom came to her senses. She'd never apologized though — just made a few threats and sent Michelle to her room.

Michelle blinked when Jerry waved his hand in front of her face. "Hey, snap out of it. You're spacing out on me, babe. Now go pack up your things and let's get outa here before that money-hungry landlord of yours comes to pay you a visit."

Looking him steadily in the eyes, Michelle thrust out her chin, then vigorously shook her head. "I am not moving in with you, Jerry. So please stop asking."

He drew closer so that they were nose to nose. "You're my girl, and you'd better do as I say."

Michelle couldn't mistake his tone of agitation, and a familiar fear bubbled in her soul. She took a step back, biting the inside of her cheek. "I — I appreciate the offer, Jerry, but as I said before, I'm not ready to move in with you." She spoke slowly and kept her voice low, hoping it would calm him.

"Well, ya wanna know what I think, sugar? I think you don't know what ya want."

"Yes I do, Jerry, and it ... it's not you." Michelle didn't know where her courage came from, but she felt a little braver.

"What do you mean, it's not me? We've been together almost every night since we first met." His words slurred as he grabbed Michelle's shoulders and gave her a cruel shake.

"Stop it! You're hurting me." She pushed him back.

He sneered at her. "Ya think this hurts? If you leave me, Michelle, you'll hurt even more. You know you love me, babe."

Michelle swallowed against the bile rising in her throat. She wanted Jerry to leave but feared his reaction if she ordered him to go.

"Come here and give me some love." Jerry grabbed her again, and before she could react, he kissed her neck roughly, while holding her arms tightly behind her back. His lips moved from Michelle's neck to her mouth, and then he pushed her down on the couch. "You're mine. And don't you ever forget it."

Michelle fought against Jerry's brute strength, and when he wouldn't let her up, she bit his arm.

"Why, you little —" He cursed and slapped Michelle's face so hard her head jerked back.

She cried out and somehow managed to wiggle out from under him and off the couch. "If you don't leave right now, I'll scream at the top of my lungs for someone to call the cops. And they will too. You can count on it."

Jerry leapt off the couch and, panting heavily, gave her another hard slap, right where he'd hit her before. Whirling around, he stomped across the room and out the door, slamming it behind him.

Gasping for breath, Michelle ran to the door and bolted it shut. She had to get out of here — not just because she had no money to pay the rent, but to escape the man she'd foolishly gotten involved with.

She dashed to the bathroom and looked in the mirror. Her hand immediately went to the red mark quite visible on her face. "Ouch. I do not deserve this kind of treatment — not from Jerry or anyone."

Wincing, Michelle ran some cool water on a washcloth and dabbed it on the red, stinging skin.

Today was not the first time Jerry had physically abused her, and if she stayed in Philadelphia and kept seeing him, Michelle knew it wouldn't be the last.

* * *

Michelle awoke with a pounding headache. After Jerry left last night she'd had a hard time getting to sleep. Was he right? Should she stay and move in with him? Would that be the sensible thing to do? It would certainly take care of her financial problems.

Michelle shook her head. What am I thinking? He's a jerk. I need to get away from him now. If I don't, I could end up in an abusive relationship for the rest of my life.

She pulled herself out of bed and plodded across the room. Staring out the window at the depressing scene, Michelle weighed her options. She was tired of the unexciting view that greeted her every day. Seeing all the buildings surrounding her apartment made her feel closed in. And what little bit of sky she could actually see was dismal, just like her mood. She could either stay here in Philly and keep searching for another job, or get out of town and start over someplace else. One thing was sure: she had to break things off with Jerry. He was a loser and, short of a miracle, he would never treat her with love and respect.

While brushing her teeth, Michelle glanced in the cracked mirror. At least there weren't any marks left where she'd been slapped, and Jerry hadn't loosened any of her teeth. Dad had done that once to Mom, and they'd been too poor to go to the dentist.

Shaking her negative thoughts aside, Michelle got dressed and went to the kitchen to fix breakfast. She'd no more than taken out a bowl for cold cereal when a knock sounded on the door.

"Hey babe, let me in. I have somethin' for you."

Michelle groaned inwardly. Jerry was back. She figured if she didn't open the door, he'd keep knocking and wake the whole apartment complex, including her landlord.

She opened the door a crack, but kept the chain bolted. "What do you want, Jerry?" "Came to say I'm sorry for last night." He held a pink carnation in his hand. "I wanna start over, darlin'. I promise never to hit you again."

Yeah, right. Michelle did not have to think about his offer very long. She didn't trust him not to hit her again. She'd had enough abuse when she was growing up. After hearing the same old assurances from her parents that they were sorry and it wouldn't happen again, Michelle knew good and well that Jerry would never keep the promise he'd just made.

"Sorry, Jerry, I'm not interested in starting over." Michelle shut the door in his face.

"You'll change your mind when you've had a chance to think things over," he called through the door. "I'll be back tomorrow, and we can talk about this again."

"You can come back if you want, but I won't be here," Michelle mumbled under her breath, as she heard his footsteps fading away. She lifted a hand to her still-tender cheek. "You'll never do this to me again. Don't know where I'm headed, but I'm gettin' out of here tomorrow, one way or the other."

CHAPTER 2

Strasburg, Pennsylvania

Mary Ruth Lapp ambled down the driveway to get the mail. She'd meant to go to the mailbox earlier, but it had rained hard most of the day, and she hadn't felt like going outside. As some of the clouds parted, a glorious sunset appeared with pink, gold, and orange hues. Mary Ruth took in its beauty, while breathing in the fresh after-rain scent.

Some days it was hard to feel positive, with all the terrible things going on in the world, but today wasn't one of them. Mary Ruth's spirits soared as she looked toward the trees and listened to the birds singing overhead as they found places to roost for the night. Of course she had always liked the month of June with the fragrance of flowers bursting open all around and mild temperatures that went well with tilling the garden.

Sighing contentedly, Mary Ruth reached the end of the driveway and pulled the mail out of their mailbox. She sorted through several advertising flyers, along with a few bills. There was also a letter addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Willis Lapp, but the return address was missing. In the place where it should have been was a sticky, rough spot, as though the address label had been pulled off.

She bit her lower lip. "Now I wonder who this came from." Not only was the postmark smudged, so she couldn't tell where the letter had originated, but parts of their address were unreadable. She was impressed that the post office had managed to deliver it.

Mary Ruth decided to open it right there on the spot, but as she struggled to open the envelope flap, it slipped from her hands, landing on the soggy, wet ground.

"Ach! Now look what I've done." She bent down and scooped up the letter. Unfortunately, the envelope acted like a sponge, turning it somewhat soggy. Wiping it quickly on her dress, Mary Ruth fussed, "Hopefully I saved the inside, and nothing got smudged."

Despite her curiosity, she decided to wait until she got back to the house to open the envelope. Besides, she was losing daylight, and it would soon be too dark to read.

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "The Hope Jar"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Wanda E. Brunstetter.
Excerpted by permission of Barbour Publishing, 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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The Hope Jar 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 99 reviews.
soccerkidsmom More than 1 year ago
Michelle Taylor is a young girl alone in the world and not sure where to go next when an elderly Amish couple mistake her for their English granddaughter whom they had never met at the train station where they were to pick her up. Assuming Sara Murray's identity, Michelle quickly finds herself enjoying life in Lancaster County and in no hurry to move on to an unknown future. The longer she stays the harder it is for her to even consider wanting to leave, and Michelle starts to fear being found out as the imposter she is. Will she be able to tell the Lapps the truth, or will she be found out when the real Sara shows up at their door? Wanda Brunstetter has written many books, and I have read quite a few of them, and I have to say this newest offering has to be one of her very best. The Hope Jar is a novel you won't want to put down. This is book one of a new series entitled The Prayer Jars, about jars that are found hidden with messages inside them. The Hope Jar offered Michelle hope through the slips of paper inside with prayers, quotes, and Bible verses handwritten on each one. I highly recommend this interesting story and look forward to the second one, The Forgiving Jar, coming in February, 2019. I received a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review, no compensation was received.
NanceeMarchinowski More than 1 year ago
The Hope Jar is an excellent read for newcomers to Amish fiction and young adult readers. Much in depth information pertaining to the Amish way of life is explained throughout this story of an older Amish couple and the deception a family imposter portrayed. I was disappointed that the entire book was based on the lies and misrepresentation of a young woman who deceived the Lapps into thinking she was their granddaughter. The deception began somewhat accidentally, but continued for several months which became somewhat bothersome. I had hoped to see some resolution and reconciliation in this story. I assume that will come through in the sequel which will become available in several months. This isn't one of my favorite books by this author. Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book. All expressed opinions in this review are my own.
ConR More than 1 year ago
This first book in a new series from Wanda is a keeper! Such an intriguing story line and I can see this happening. I'm glad that the story will be continuing and I will definitely be following these characters! As with any book I read, if the story line catches me within the first few chapters and the characters presented seem like people I could really meet and have complex stories that draw you in, I'm hooked. It happened! Thanks, Wanda! I received a copy of the book from the author. I was not required to submit a review. All comments are my own humble opinion!
Deana0326 More than 1 year ago
In this new series written by a very talented author , she gives us a gripping and emotional story about hope, forgiveness and acceptance. Have you ever been so desperate to be accepted by someone, that you would do anything? Michelle is in a bad relationship that has become dangerous and needs to find a safe place to go. I felt her fears as her boyfriend threatened her and hurt her. I wanted her to run as fast and as far away as she could. When Michelle gets off the bus after leaving her abusive boyfriend, she is suddenly mistaken for Sara, the granddaughter of Willis and Mary Ruth Lapp. I thought it was very intriguing that a young woman would take advantage of this sweet elderly couple. Michelle has a chance to start a new life and grabs hold of her false identity. It's lucky for her that Willis and Mary Ruth have never seen their granddaughter before. Maybe she can pull this off and find a new home in Amish country. I adored Willis and Mary Ruth. They were so excited to meet their granddaughter and hopefully find out what happened to their daughter who left home so long ago. Their broken hearts hopefully will start to mend as they get to know their granddaughter. There is of course one little catch to all this. At some point Sara, the real granddaughter will show up. How long can Michelle keep up this charade? I did feel a sense of relief from Michelle as she settles into her new life. When a jar is found with scriptures and prayers, this to me was the turning point in the story. It opened up a broken heart and allowed the person to feel hope and love. Each time the jar was opened, a fresh sprinkle of redemption came over them. Wouldn't it be nice to find a hidden jar like that? You are at a place in your life where you see no hope, no way out and no one loves you. You are drawn to the jar and there inside is the hope and acceptance you have been looking for. I loved Michelle the most because I could easily identify with her. I know what it is like to want a place to feel safe and loving people who care for you. Will she be changed as she continues to deceive the people who have opened their hearts and home to her? I loved how easily Michelle started to draw closer to Willis and Mary Ruth. They are true examples of people who love unconditionally. Will Michelle's secret be found out? Will Michelle find a way to open her heart to God? I was sad for the story to end. There were several questions left unanswered and I hope the author addresses it in another book . The author does an amazing job of allowing the characters to deal with hard issues like domestic abuse and forgiveness. I liked that these subjects were handled with grace and showed readers that there is always hope. "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy , and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:16 I received a copy of this book from the author. The review is my own opinion.
MrsTina42MR 5 months ago
The Hope Jar #1 The Prayer Jars by Wanda E. Brunstetter My favorite characters in this story are the grandparents, Willis and Mary Ruth Lapp. They welcomed their “granddaughter” into their home, lives and hearts with open arms. I dreaded the time they would learn the truth about the young woman staying with them. I was rather disappointed that almost the whole book revolved around the lies and deceit of the young woman and hoped to see more of the “hope” from the hope jar incorporated more into the story-line. ~I received a copy of this book from the author/Barbour publishing (no monetary gain were exchanged), this is my honest review~
OlaB More than 1 year ago
When I began reading Wanda E. Brunstetter’s The Hope Jar, my first reaction was “this is not Wanda’s book”. As I kept reading, her voice became evident. This book deals with contemporary issues from the start. The trust of this Amish family brought into their home someone who could have carried danger with them. Although mislead as to the identity of the woman now in their lives, the unconditional love and acceptance was exactly what Michelle needed. The tension caused by her constant fear kept her from fully receiving that love. She does grow as she lives in this loving home but flees from this love with guilt filling her heart. Michelle does begin to find hope and the courage to face her fear with the help of someone who will need her support as much as she need his. I am looking forward to the next book in this series. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.
wileysmSM More than 1 year ago
I always enjoy Wanda Brunstetter's books because they are easy to read, describe the mysterious Amish lifestyle, have a romance,and present Biblical values so practically. This book is no exception. You'll find a surprise photo on the front cover. I am intrigued how the Amish navigate the outside world near them, their own who want to try life on their own, and those who want to join them. Several themes stood out to me in this book: kindness, deception, lives run by rules, forgiveness and grace. I anticipate eagerly the next book of The Prayer Jar Series. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.
fuzzmom More than 1 year ago
Michelle has had a tough life. Now she needs to disappear. The Amish couple at the bus station who seem to think she is their long lost Granddaughter sounds like a perfect solution to her. Sara, their real Granddaughter wants to meet them, but is willing to wait to accommodate their needs, at least she thinks are their needs. This story, from my favorite Amish fiction writer, does not disappoint! Being gently nudged toward faith by the bible quotes found in an old canning jar. Sara starts to believe there is a different way to live. A better way to live. A fascinating look at expectations, and God's ability to use them for good.
Dianne57 More than 1 year ago
Please read the synopsis, I'm afraid that I won't do it justice if I recap it here. I am so disappointed in this book. It's mostly my fault that I got this ARC that I just couldn't finish. I chose it based on the author and her previous books that I have read. While she is not my favorite Amish author she is consistent and I'm able to give almost all of her books at least 3.5 stars---until this one. If the main character -Michelle/Sara wasn't such a thief and liar, wasn't so cold and calculating about what she was doing, then I might have warmed up to her and finished the book. I understand that there is another book after this one that will be Sara's story, I'll pass.
KnittyTeacher More than 1 year ago
This book was a unique blend of Wanda Brunstetter's talents - her classic, beautiful Amish fiction, cleverly combined with a modern-day English story that so many of us can relate to. This page-turner was a quick but delightful read, because once I was engrossed in the story, I had to to keep reading to find out what happens. The harsh realities of tough life choices come to a head for the main character has she finds herself facing major life decisions. Those decisions bring her to an Amish family, which is a totally different way of life for her. Some parts off her new-found life are magical, others bring sorrow, but all of it serves a purpose to teach a lesson about life, faith, family, love, and forgiveness. The English world and the Amish world combine in this novel, which is unique viewpoint that Wanda penned wonderfully! This first book in The Prayer Jars series ends with a twist...leaving readers wondering what will happen next, and with hope in their heart. I am anxiously awaiting book two! This book was provided to me by Barbour Publishing. I was not required to leave a positive (or any) review. Opinions and ideas expressed in this review are my own.
Baranski1987 More than 1 year ago
The Hope Jar is the first book in the new series The Prayer Jars by Wanda E. Brunstetter. Wanda has outdone herself again. She has written another story that will surly capture the heart of her readers. I finished The Hope Jar in one day it was that wunderbar. This story is full of hope, faith, love, deception, heartache, pain and so much more. I am so looking forward to reading the next book in this series and catching up with these characters.
GratefulGrandma More than 1 year ago
Believe it or not, this is the first Wanda E. Brunstetter book that I have read and I will definitely be looking for more to read. This was truly an inspiring story. The Hope Jar weaves the tale of two young women who have experienced tragedy and are at a crossroads in their lives. Sara has lost her mother and does not have much of a relationship with her step-father and half brother, Michelle has never really been part of a family at all. She grew up in the foster system. Sara’s grandparents have been estranged from their deceased daughter and Sara did not even know they existed until after her mother's death. She writes to them and tells them that she would like to come and meet them. They didn't know they had a granddaughter and are looking forward to meeting and building a relationship with her. When they see Michelle at the bus station getting ready to move somewhere, anywhere else, they mistakenly think her to be their granddaughter. Michelle is at a hopeless phase in her life, so she readily pretends to be their granddaughter and returns with them to their Amish farm. When Michelle finds an old blue jar in the barn filled with quotes, thoughts and prayers, they inspire her to have faith that things are never hopeless. But how will she ever tell this family she has grown to love about her lies and betrayal? Will they be able to forgive her? This story is well written and flows easily. I enjoyed the people who lived in this Amish town, they were friendly and accepting to Sara (Michelle). There is pain, fear, deceit, love, hope and triumph all present in this story, but it is beautifully written and wonderfully executed. This is the first book in the Prayer Jar series, and it left us with some unanswered questions which I hope will be answered in the next book. I recommend this story to anyone who enjoys Christian or Amish fiction as well as anyone looking for an inspirational story with a Christian overtone. The publisher, Shiloh Run Press, provided me with this book to read. The rating, ideas and opinions are my own.
Andrea Byers More than 1 year ago
This story takes us into the lives of an older Amish couple and someone they believe is their granddaughter, as well as their real granddaughter. We also meet some others from the Amish community. This story focuses on the supposed granddaughter and the grandparents as they get to know each other and “Sara” gets to know them and a simpler life. It’s a good story, with likeable characters, though I kept wondering when we’d hear from the real Sara or more about her life. Satisfying conclusion, though I felt it would have been great to be another chapter longer, or a longer ending chapter. A complimentary copy was provided by Barbour Publishing through Net Galley. No review was required and all thoughts and opinions are my own.
ASimplyEnchantedLife More than 1 year ago
The Hope Jar is book #1 in The Prayer Jars series by Wanda E. Brunstetter. I genuinely enjoyed this book. I get so tired of books with picture perfect characters who never make a mistake. Michelle is a flawed character who makes a number of big mistakes. She picks out the wrong boyfriend. She's a liar and a thief. She's someone whom most people wouldn't like and would have trouble bonding with. Maybe I shouldn't make excuses for her. But, I didn't see a person who maliciously lied. I didn't see a person who maliciously stole from someone. I saw a young woman who was hurting so badly that she clung to a lie—never expecting to realize that her life had value. Michelle never knew love and when she experienced that, she wanted to hold on to. When she realized that she couldn't, she ran away because that was the easiest thing to do. I totally get it. I've never stolen a thing in my life but I know what it is like to be desperate for someone to love me. When you find that, you want to hold on to it, no matter the cost. It's selfish—you want love but sometimes you hold on to it so tight that you don't realize that you're not loving in return. This story is one of love, of hope and of redemption. With Mary Ruth and Willis, we get an example of godly love. The kind of love that forgives someone who hurt them. In Michelle, we learn to accept forgiveness. We learn to accept love. God's love. The kind of love that forgives even if we have lied, stolen, or broken hearts. This book was beautiful. I can barely wait to get my hands on The Forgiving Jar. I really don't know how I'm going to wait until February to revisit these characters. Hopefully, we'll get a few more clues as to the identity of the writer of the verses and prayers found in the prayer jar. I'm also eager to see how Michelle's character has developed and if Sara receives her hope and healing for her hurting heart. I would say that this book is one of my top favorites this year. I would definitely suggest it to others. However, I would suggest keeping forgiveness in your heart because Michelle is far from the typical, "perfect," character in an Amish book. This book was provided to me by The Publisher. I was not required to write a positive review, and have not been compensated for this. All opinions are my own.
MeganHope More than 1 year ago
   This book was really sweet but very slow. It didn't really grab me and hold my attention. But it focused a lot on giving second chances, forgiveness and showing that even if you're not related by blood, you can still be family. It handled the whole deception part really good too. I loved the little notes Michelle found in the jar, they added a nice aspect to the story. The book also felt like it went in circles quite a bit, with the same thought pattern. It wasn't till the very end that Michelle started to grow. So while I didn't particularly enjoy this one I do think if you're looking for a cute, sweet read you'd like it. And the ending! Makes you eager to read the next one.  I received this book free from the publisher for an honest review. All thoughts are my own. 
AshM-85 More than 1 year ago
This is book 1 in The Prayer Jar series. Sara's mother passes away, Sara is going through her mother's belongings. Sara doesn't know anything about her mother's side of the family. She also doesn't know who her father is either. She has her mother's Bible, as she's going through it she finds a piece of paper. It's a note from her mother telling her who her grandparents are. Sara writes to them saying she wants to visit them. She wants to find out when they can pick her up at the bus station. Michelle Taylor lives in Philadelphia, she's living in an apartment barley making it. She has a boyfriend named Jerry who is abusive to her. Michelle decides she's had enough and she's going to leave Philadelphia. Michelle ends up at the bus station. While she's standing there an Amish couple go to her thinking she is their long lost granddaughter. This was such a wonderful book. I didn't want it to end. I can't wait for the second book in this series to come out. I highly recommend this book to others. Your going to love it just as much as I did. I received a copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and NetGalley.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Hope Jar is the first book in Wanda Brunstetter's Prayer Jar series. When I first started reading I wasn't sure if I was going to like it, the first character that I encountered just lost her mother, something that have dealt with myself. The story gets much better, and I found the book hard to put down. I found all the characters very realistic and I feel like I know them. The story line was well written and kept me guessing to the very end. I loved this book and I can hardly wait for the next story. I highly recommend this book to everyone. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and I am not under obligation to leave a positive review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Hope Jar is the first book in Wanda Brunstetter's Prayer Jar series. When I first started reading I wasn't sure if I was going to like it, the first character that I encountered just lost her mother, something that have dealt with myself. The story gets much better, and I found the book hard to put down. I found all the characters very realistic and I feel like I know them. The story line was well written and kept me guessing to the very end. I loved this book and I can hardly wait for the next story. I highly recommend this book to everyone. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and I am not under obligation to leave a positive review.
SB1989 More than 1 year ago
The Hope Jar was a wonderful read and quit possibly my favorite Wanda book so far. This story line varies a bit from Wanda’s typical writing choices, but in the best ways! The story line keeps you reading, wanting to know if deception and or truth will win. The characters really draw the reader in and I was left a bit frustrated (in a good way!) at the end because I have to wait for the next installment to find out what will happen with the characters and their stories! I really enjoyed Wanda taking a new twist with this series while still projecting themes of love, forgiveness, and faith. I received a copy of this book from the publisher and was under no obligation to leave a positive review.
MissTinasSnitzPie More than 1 year ago
You may get tired of me saying this, but I just have to say it again. Just when you think Wanda has written her best, she writes another. You will find yourself wondering how in the world does she do it. In The Hope Jar book 1 in The Prayer Jars, you will find encouragement, love, compassion, hope that will move you and make you believe that there is always hope. This has been a hard book to put down and I can't wait for her next book in this series to release. Thank you Wanda for another wonderful read. So, yes I would highly recommend this book. I was given this book for a review for which I have given.
CindyLinth More than 1 year ago
Wanda Brunstetter did an excellent job writing The Hope Jar. This story had me entranced from the beginning, and I was wondering how the real Sara would come into play after one lie than another from Michelle. The characters were all well written, and it was fun reading about places I've been to in Lancaster County - makes the story seem real. I enjoyed seeing all the farm things Michelle got involved in, and I can't wait to see what the mason jars are all about in this series. I also enjoyed all the details Wanda Brunstetter put into this book revolving around the Amish faith and lifestyle. One can learn a lot from reading this book. Now to wait for Book #2 in this series - The Forgiving Jar.
baj1963 More than 1 year ago
"I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review." I loved this book. I love all of Wanda’s books. I can’t wait till the 2nd book comes out in this series.
Mama-Pat_ More than 1 year ago
Just when I think Wanda can't write a better story, here comes The Hope Jar! This is the first book in a new series and a great way for people to become acquainted with the Amish and their way of life. What made me a little bit sad was this whole premise of this book was based on lies. Yet Wanda was able to put into the story how conflicted we can feel when we lie! I hope their is resolution and forgiveness in the next book!This was a great read however! I could not put it down! I can't wait to see what and where Michelle goes from here on! I have to admit I received a complimentary copy of this book but I was satisfied enough that I would buy it! And I did!! Many copies that I then donated!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Once again Wanda Brunstetter writes a wonderful book that will take your ur emotions all over. You will not want to put it down, A story of right and self preservation that brings on a wrong, How guilt eats away on this wrong but self preservation is stronger and. Wonderful love grows from this. It’s bout forgiveness, and outreach. Growth and maturity, The Hope Jar is a must read that once you start you will not want to put down. You will embrace each character, root that both what is right as well as sadness and wishing wrong was rightl. Love from God and man both is the strongest emotion and wins over all. I encourage you to read this book.
CafinatedReads2009 More than 1 year ago
As you all know, I'm huge fan of Wanda Brunstetter. Not one of her books left me disappointed. So, to say I was excited about the start of this new series , is quite the understatement. The more I saw about it on Mrs. Brunstetter's pages, the more anxious for the release I became. Then when the book arrived, I couldn't wait to dive into it. And then......well, then I was in awe of Mrs. Brunstetter. Why? Because she has once again managed to take me to the heart of Amish country, to the world I wish I belonged in, and filled my heart with healing and hope.  I loved the characters within the book. They were all chiseled perfectly for their rolls. I loved watching Michelle grown in her relationships, especially her convictions with God after she found the jar. The messages she received, the feelings she felt, all of them quickly spoke to me and became my own feelings.  This book is beautifully written and will have the reader pulled to the center of the story instantly. From start to finish, I smiled, I laughed, I wondered what God would do in Michelle's life. The messages that Mrs. Brunstetter always manages to weave within the story speak loudly to the soul. I love that in Amish novels. So, if you are looking for a wonderful book to transport you to the heart of Amish country, then grab this book now. You'll be instantly addicted to the beautiful works of Wanda Brunstetter, if you aren't already. This 5 star book is definitely a keeper for me, and I can't wait to start my own hope jar!  *I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and was under no obligation to post a review, positive or negative.*