A treacherous journey across the Atlantic. A story of forgotten love renewed. A ship filled with scheming officials and uncivilized sailors. Do these elements sound like any Amish story you have ever read before? Believe it or not, Suzanne Woods Fisher’s newest novel takes place primarily on board a ship in 1737, when the Amish believers first began crossing the ocean from Europe to begin a new life in America. Published by Revell in 2015, Anna’s Crossing is a gripping saga based on true events and the courage, strength, and determination of a people whose faith in God was the only thing left of their past.
With strong and flowing descriptive language, life on board The Charming Nancy is masterfully brought to life and allows readers to almost feel the salt spray of the waves and smell the stench of the lower decks where the passengers resided. Although the novel starts off a tad slowly, leaving readers to wonder how an entire story set on board a ship can sustain interest until the end, excitement and intrigue quickly arise and transform the plot into a captivating chronicle of conviction. A unique and charming aspect of the story’s voice is found in the narration. Three different viewpoints combine to form a single, well-rounded story: Anna, a young Amish woman leaving her family and home village for the first time… Bairn, the ship’s carpenter who appears to be a seasoned Scottish seaman, yet hides deep, painful secrets from his past… And Felix, a mischievous, cunning, and oftentimes hilarious young Amish boy who is self-proclaimed as ‘misunderstood’… Secondary characters enliven the story even further, adding flavor and interwoven stories that breathe reality into the pages of Anna’s Crossing.
As stated by the author in the ‘Discussion Questions’ portion of the book, by setting an Amish story on board a ship “it was a challenge to create tensions in which the Amish showed a better way to respond to life’s trials without the usual props. It stripped away what draws us to and distracts us about the Amish (such as a simple farm life) to show their depth and commitment to faith in response to crises.” Faith and trust in God are the bedrock of this Amish community’s faith, and it sees them through seemingly hopeless circumstances, while simultaneously touching the hearts of unbelieving sailors as they coexist on the ship. On a personal level, Anna teaches Bairn to once again trust in Someone greater than himself, to let go of his hurt and realize that God is a God of love, of healing. Interestingly, the faith aspects of Anna’s Crossing are truly more real, practical, and universally applicable than any other Amish story I have read.
Altogether, Anna’s Crossing is an outstanding book in both the genres of Amish and Historical Fiction. With so many unique, endearing qualities, this book will be a treasure to many. One of the most enjoyable portions was the unfolding of Anna’s and Bairn’s blossoming relationship, and the true love they held for one another… Not merely emotional attraction based on physical appearance, but a deep and sacrificial love based on the truth that God had brought them together, and prepared their hearts for each other. Whether or not you enjoy Amish Fiction, Anna’s Crossing is a must-read for fans of Christian Fiction in general. It is indeed an unforgettable tale of an unforgettable journey.
Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.