Feature book: Temptation
About 10 months after the death of her mother from cancer, Rose and her remaining family move to Meadow View, Ohio from Cincinnati. Rose’s father is an ER doctor and has taken a position at the local hospital. Rose, her older brother Sam and younger brother Justin, are free for the summer and not thrilled about being away from their friends in the city. There is a large Amish community in Meadow View and their nearest neighbours, the Millers, offer to help them get moved in and repair the old farmhouse. Noah Miller is 18 and very handsome and catches 16year-old Rose’s eye immediately.
Their attraction is mutual but Noah is not allowed to speak to or be alone with the ‘English’ girl (all non-Amish people are ‘English’). Despite the rules, the pair find ways to spend time together alone and are very soon professing their love and planning on a future together.
Rose is very lonely, her mother has died and her father is largely absent. About halfway through the book, Rose’s father gets a girlfriend, which further alienates Rose from him. Noah feels like the only good thing in her life. She’s away from her friends and her dance school. She hasn’t made any new friends apart from Noah and one or two girls in the Amish community (albeit tentative friendships with the latter). It is not surprising then, that Rose falls so hard for Noah. He is very good looking, very strong and seems very mature.
Amish children finish school at age 14 and are then set to work full time. By age 16, the girls are allowed to ‘court’—the catch to courting Amish style is that you have to want to marry the person you are courting, before you start courting. An invitation to court is virtually a marriage proposal. Amish girls and boys usually marry very young. They are not allowed to be alone together unless they are courting and even then it is very strict and they are not supposed to even touch each other until they are married. The society is very patriarchal and women are literally barefoot and in the kitchen—often pregnant, as they do not use any birth control. The men eat first at meals, the women hide their hair under tight caps and wear shapeless dresses so no men are tempted. No Amish child goes to college. They eschew electricity, television, computers, dancing and most music (hymns are okay but there are no musical instruments). Strangely though, they are happy enough to use the services of English drivers to take them places/distances their horses and buggies cannot so the rules do bend at least a little when it suits them (as Rose’s dad points out. He also refers to the Amish as being a ‘misogynistic cult’ and it was difficult not to agree with him).
I must say that I had previously thought of the Amish in a kind of benevolent way. Perhaps I’m becoming a latent feminist, but I found it difficult to see any attraction, particularly for women, in the Amish way of life.
The basic conflict of the book is that Noah wants Rose to convert to Amish so they can court, marry and be together. For her to do this, she must leave her own family and be ‘fostered’ by another Amish family. No more ballet, no more laptop, no more iPod, TV, jeans, t-shirts and certainly no shorts. Rose, of course, wants Noah to leave and live outside of the Amish society but this is not so easy for him. He has only a basic education and, apart from Rose, no other friends outside the community. If he leaves, he will be forever without his family and community, with limited ability to support Rose. Because he’s been raised in such an austere society, he would not assimilate well into the modern world. And really, he doesn’t want to. He believes in the Amish way of life and is happy there. It’s just that he wants Rose too. As Rose becomes further and further isolated, converting to Amish becomes more attractive. She thinks she has nothing good in her life except for Noah and without him, life is not worth living.
I couldn’t help but think how very, very young these two were. Given their respective isolation and teenage hormones, it was easy to see how they could develop strong feelings for each other very quickly. But, I can’t say that I really bought that what they were feeling was true love. To me, they were just children. And, while I mostly liked Noah, he was very misogynistic—it having been ingrained in him from birth. He often thinks that Rose wraps him around her little finger, but the truth is, it is Rose who gives in EVERY TIME.
This is book one—if you buy into the relationship it has a happy-for-now ending, but there are plenty of problems ahead for them in future books (I don’t know if there will be more than one more). I couldn’t get my head around the whole Amish thing to be honest. It held no attraction for me so I didn’t actually want Rose to become Amish—but that is what she has to do if she wants to be with Noah.
I found the book very easy to read but I think perhaps it would suit younger readers better. The book gives a very balanced view of the Amish way of life I think, as it is told in the alternating first person point of view of both Rose and Noah. Even with that balance however, it was difficult for me to see the charm. I enjoyed the book but I think I reacted to it as a non-Amish parent and for that reason, my recommendation is qualified.
The cover is pretty and I referred to it often as I had an alarming propensity to picture Rose as Kristen Stewart, which was somewhat disconcerting!
reviewed by Kaetrin
A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher. All ARRA members who leave a comment on this article will go in the draw to win the book. The giveaway closes on 14 November 2012.