The setting is the beginning of an Amish settlement in colonial America in the forests of eastern Pennsylvania. There, a young Amish couple, Hans and Kate Zug, are in their ninth year of marriage, still waiting to have a child. Then, one April morning, Kate finds a Native infant, wrapped in deerskin and placed next to the spring where she went to fill her water bucket.
Kate and Hans cherish Hester, despite the pointed question of Hans's mother - "What makes you think you can raise her Amish, with her Indian blood?" Struck by his daughter's unusual beauty, Hans insists on choosing the fabric for her handmade dresses. And when his and Kate's first son is born a year later, Hans despairs of his homely face and nearly bald head. In fact, Hans continues to give his fullest attention and affection to Hester, even as eight more children are born to him and Kate.
Hester glows as she grows, an unmistakable beauty both inside and out, and charms her adopted Amish community. But then, an elderly Lenape woman hands Hester a package of medicinal herbs to rout an infection that is threatening Kate's life. A trust passes between the wizened and the youthful Native women. In that moment, Hester recognizes that she belongs to two worlds, both intent on possessing her. When Amish Indian Hester realizes that she must leave her tension-filled home for her sake and her father's, she takes only two possessions: the leather-bound book of remedies left for her by the old Lenape woman and her memories of the Amish ways.
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Unusual Amish Story
This story of an Amish couple finding an Indian child and adopting her is one of the most unusual I've come across. Linda Byler is an excellent author, but a couple of things bothered me about this book . . . Hans, Hester's father's preoccupation with Hester and different treatment of her than his other children bothered me a lot, the fact that he allowed her gifts and different privileges than his other children, and that he placed her even above his wife. It was an odd situation for an Amish story/Christian book, and the fact that it was never dealt with in any appropriate way bothered me even more. After his first wife, Kate died, and he remarried to a horrible woman, who treated Hester abusively, Hans' behavior was atrocious. He seemed to go from one extreme to another. The parts of the book that I LOVED were Hester finding her way to the Indian medicine woman, and learning about her own people. What she learned from the book of remedies left to her by the old Lenape woman was priceless. Not sure I will continue the series, however, because of the conflict that I felt with this one.