Book Reveiw: The Amish Schoolroom by Amy Clipston, Kathleen Fuller, and Shelley Shepard Gray.
Reviewed by Chrystal Berche
This collection of three short stories featured the same recurring theme, a new teacher getting used to the task of managing a one room schoolhouse on her own, while also getting accustomed to being away from family and friends. Each job took the new teacher to someplace where they were new in the community, living on their own for the first time, and dealing with the challenges and obstacles of teaching a diverse group of children. While the themes were common across all three stories, each author put their own lovely spin on it, while weaving the elements of romance throughout each one.
In A Class for Laurel, by Amy Clipston, first time teacher Laurel travels from Pennsylvania to Colorado, where she lives in a small house on the property of a family to whom she begins to get to know through meals and conversation. Struggling with homesickness, she wonders if she’s made the right decision in moving so far away from home. The author shows that there is more to Laurel’s growth than just what she gains in the classroom, and along the way, entices the reader to cheer Laurel on as she discovers her place in her new home.
The second story of the collection, A Lesson on Love, by Kathleen Fuller, took a different approach to the schoolhouse theme, not only showing the community coming together to build a schoolhouse for its youngsters, but of a teacher who had been out in the world and was no stranger to living on her own. In this story, the question of age, what and who is too old, old souls and what youth actually means comes up more than once, woven through with the theme of a new teacher who wasn’t just a few years older than her students. Stubborn and determined, Priscilla isn’t used to relying on anyone, but seeing the way the community comes together for their school gives her a greater sense of what’s possible when faith, hope, and love are involved.
The final story, Wendy’s Twenty Reasons, by Shelley Shepard Gray, focuses on a first time teach who is stepping in to replace a teacher beloved by her students and the community. With only a short term left in the school year, she not only faces the challenges that come with being young and not as experienced as the teacher she replaced, but with the fear of not being able to hold on to her job just a she’s coming to realize that she just might be falling in love with the son of the folks she’s boarding with.
I thoroughly enjoyed each of these stories. Light, sweet, with just enough angst to leave you rooting for the main characters, they gave beautiful insight to the joy and sometimes loneliness of teaching in a one room schoolhouse, joining a new community and building a life away from the only place you’ve ever known. A wonderful book for fans of sweet Amish romances, who can also find another three-story collection, The Amish Quilting Bee, in the Browsing section of the Charles City Public Library.