Here is Jolina Petersheim’s debut novel The Outcast!! When I read it was a modern retelling of The Scarlet Letter I must admit I was curious. That is not an easy story to retell. But before I get ahead of myself, here is an overview of The Outcast:
Raised in an Old Order Mennonite community, Rachel Stoltzfus is a strong-willed single woman, content living apart from mainstream society until whispers stir the moment her belly swells with new life. Refusing to repent and name the partner in her sin, Rachel feels the wrath of the religious sect as she is shunned by those she loves most. She is eventually coerced into leaving by her brother-in-law, the bishop.
But secrets run deep in this cloistered community, and the bishop is hiding some of his own, threatening his conscience and his very soul. When the life of Rachel’s baby is at stake, however, choices must be made that will bring the darkness to light, forever changing the lives of those who call Copper Creek home.
Well, secrets sure do run deep in this book. It seems everyone had a secret that was eating them up. We get dropped into the story after Rachel has given birth to her illegitimate son Eli. No one in her community is pleased with this, especially since she will not name the father and repent of her sins.
Jolina Petersheim gives us a glimpse into the story from many different character perspectives. We get to see how Rachel’s sin and the sin of the man who fathered her child (Sorry don’t want to spoil it for you) are passed down through generations. How there sin just doesn’t affect them but the ones around them as well.
This was definitely a story of grace and forgiveness. Make no mistake though it was not that easy. Forgiveness didn’t just happen it had to be worked at, which is something I loved about this story. I loved how Jolina Petersheim didn’t just try and wrap it all up in a little bow and make it perfect. She showed that forgiveness, while necessary, can be messy and one the hardest things you can ever do. This was such an amazing tale of grace.
I also liked how all the characters were flawed. Not one was higher than the other (No matter how much they thought they were). It just reminded me so much of Romans 3:23:”For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” None of us are perfect. We are all flawed and in need of a savoir. This book is a good reminder of that.
I only had one issue with the book itself. I wasn’t sure I liked how it kept switching the story to Amos’s perspective from heaven. It just seemed a bit off. I really wasn’t sure I liked it when he came back to Earth either. That part especially just didn’t seem to fit the flow of the rest of the book.
Overall though I say a strong first book for Jolina Petersheim. I do look forward to reading her future books to see how she develops as an author.
I received this book from Tyndale Publishing in exchange for my honest review.