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  • Writer's pictureAnnee Jones

Review of: First Christmas on Huckleberry Hill by Jennifer Beckstrand

Updated: Jul 23, 2022

Beckstrand’s award-winning power is clear in this prequel to her popular Amish fiction series, The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill. Martha Sue, 30 years old and determined not to marry, realizes she has been sent to spend Christmas with her grandparents, known for their penchant for matchmaking, for the purpose of finding a husband. When she corners her grandmother to firmly protest, she finds herself listening along with the rest of the family as Mammi Anna and Dawdi Felty recite the story of how they fell in love. Readers will happily follow along as Beckstrand goes back in time to the 1950s when Felty returns from the Korean War and finds himself ostracized by his Amish community for his choice to serve, which goes against the vow of nonviolence central to the faith. The girl he secretly loves, Anna, is the only one willing to befriend and forgive him – but he doubts whether she could ever love him. Like Felty, Anna is an outsider in the community. She can’t cook, sew, or clean, and is too bookish for a proper Amish girl. The two form a ready friendship that develops into love as they bond over shared tragedy and the complexities of life and relationships. Together, they practice what it means to live their faith in contrast to the people around them whose words ring hollow. Beckstrand’s writing is near-perfect as deeper themes are beautifully balanced by smart, tongue-in-cheek humor. A wonderful Christmas story sure to thoroughly capture the hearts of fans who won’t want to leave Huckleberry Hill. *STARRED REVIEW* [Oct]

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