Kelly Irvin has quickly become one of my favorite Christian fiction writers. Until I started reading her novels, I hadn’t read too many Amish theme books. I was excited at the opportunity to read Kelly’s newest book A Long Bridge Home, the second book in the Amish of Big Sky Country, which takes place during the same timeframe as the first book, Mountains of Grace. Wildfires are burning in the mountains near the community of West Kootenai, Montana.
Christine and the Mast family evacuate but do not intend to return to West Kootenai. Her mother and father have decided it’s time for their family to return to Kansas where her father’s parents live and need help in their older years. Christine is desperate to stay because of her special friend Andy Lambright. While they are not engaged, they’ve talked about marriage and seem to be heading in that direction. Andy is evacuating too, but he’s returning to his family’s home so he can deal with some unfinished business. Andy and Christine persuade her parents to let her stay a little bit closer in St. Ignatius, Montana.
Christine will be staying with family, but she will be experiencing a whole new world than what she’s used to. Andy returns home and finds old wounds still haven’t healed and the best remedy is forgiveness, even though he was one who was wronged. Will his lack of honesty drive Christine away? Will Christine remain faithful to her special friend? Or will she be lured away by the excitement of her new friend Raymond Old Fox and a culture that is foreign to her?
I really liked the characters in A Long Bridge Home. My favorite was Andy, he was an honest and vulnerable and was growing and maturing. I liked Christine but found her secrecy about her relationship with Raymond betrayed her conscience. Raymond Old Fox was an interesting character and I liked him. I wondered what attracted him to pursue a friendship with Christine. I found it interesting to learn about the Native Indian history and culture and to see some of the similarities to the Amish culture and the contrasts.
Where I ran into some discomfort with this book was how Christine wrestled with the differences in her Christian faith and spirituality from Raymond’s Native Indian culture. It is interesting to learn of other cultures and what they believe but, as a Christian, we cannot forget that the Bible is the plumbline of truth and of right and wrong, heaven and hell, sin, rebellion, truth, righteousness, forgiveness, repentance, and salvation through Jesus Christ alone.
Christine hesitated to share her faith, in part, because of the mistreatment of Raymond’s Native Indian ancestors at the hands of people who said they were Christians.
I tried to let Christine wrestle through what she was learning and how that differed from what she knew of the Bible. I struggled with her trying to see her Christian faith and Raymond’s spirituality as equivalent. Christine seemed to think that Raymond’s belief in a Creator was the same as her belief in the God of the Bible. At one point she said, “He’s your God too.” I wanted to tell Christine, “No He’s not…not at this point.” But I did appreciate that Christine wanted to pray for Raymond and she felt the need to tell him about Jesus Christ even though that was not done in her Amish culture. I appreciated Andy’s trust in Christine and his more mature understanding of the differences between the Amish and Indian religious beliefs.
Christine had some wrong theology and I highlighted a number of statements and made many notes. I tried to let the character wrestle with her thoughts and theological understanding. Ideally, I would like to have wrong theology corrected in the novel, perhaps by another character or by a character’s growing understanding.
Is the right theology important in a fiction novel by a Christian author? Yes, because that book may influence a reader for right or wrong.
There was much that I liked about A Long Bridge Home, the characters and storyline. But I struggled with some of the wrong theology the main character expressed.
I would like to thank Zondervan Publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read A Long Bridge Home by Kelly Irvin. I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.