Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Rum Spring by Yolanda Wallace

Publisher:                Bold Strokes Books

Rebecca Lapp and Dylan Mahoney have been friends most of their lives, but they come from two different worlds.  Rebecca belongs to an Amish family that follows the Ordnung, the rules that govern their way of life, completely.  Dylan is an "English" and lives in the larger world.  Both of them are looking forward to Rebecca's rumspringa when she will be allowed to spend more time in the modern world to decide where she wants to spend the rest of her life.  Dylan wants to show Rebecca everything possible to try and convince Rebecca that they can make a life for themselves.  Rebecca loves Dylan, but she also loves her family and the security that their way of life offers.  She doesn't believe that she can have them both, but she can't let go of Dylan either.  As they move through their experiences, the over looming question remains, how do you combine two worlds that can't be combined?

Wallace has chosen a very different setting for this book.  Since the Amish culture is so foreign to most people, it's difficult to know how accurate the portrayal is, but there certainly is an air of things being different.  The casual reader might develop the opinion that the Amish are narrow minded and unfair beyond being reasonable, but it's difficult to accept that as true when so many people choose to follow that lifestyle.  Although they are supposed to be close followers of the Ordnung, the Lapps seem to find it convenient to let the outside world in at times; however, this may be the way that society functions.  For a person who lives in such close contact with the Amish, Dylan doesn't seem to really understand the depths of what she is expecting Rebecca to do.  Her persistence in courting one of their members can either be viewed as true dedication to love or a mulish insistence to lead Rebecca away from her family.  The reader will have to decide which she feels it is.

This is a complex romance because of the clash between the two societies.  There is never any doubt that Rebecca is driving the story, except that Dylan keeps pushing her in the direction that Dylan hopes to take.  How the story will end is never really in question, which deprives the book of some of the tension it could have possessed.  Another disconcerting fact is that, for someone who has been so sheltered, Rebecca seems to know exactly what to do when she is with another woman.  There doesn't seem to be enough hesitation between these two characters to coincide with their very different cultures.

Rum Spring is an interesting, easy to read story that doesn't quite deliver on its true potential.

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