Amish fiction books abound and are very popular these days...but do you know very much about the Shakers? Similar to the Amish in some ways, but very different in their theologies, Ann Gabhart fills us in on the Shaker religion in an interesting fiction novel. The Gifted is the fifth book in this series about the Shakers, but each book is stand-alone, so don't hesitate to read this just because you haven't read the first four books.
Joy In Our Journey's review (guest review by my friend, Jan):
How would it feel to be kissed, Jessamine can't help but wonder. She has been brought up in the Shaker community since her great grandmother died when she was ten, and the community does not allow marriage or any contact between men and women. Ann Gabhart has written another intriguing book, The Gifted, about just this situation. Jessamine is happy in the community, but there is a desire to know what it would be like to be kissed.
The Shaker community is a safe place; the rules are strict, and life is structured. Jessamine has heard about parasols from an other young woman and is very curious to see what they are. When she and another girl from the community go out into the woods to pick berries, they wander farther than they should to see this wondrous thing. They find a man who has been wounded and take him back to their community to be healed. Yes, love though forbidden, is in the air. How this situation works out makes a different and entertaining read.
I enjoyed this book, but was more than a little disturbed by the frequent references to the cult's founder, Mother Ann, as an equal to God, to be prayed to, and her rules were to be obeyed without question. For me, this rather spoiled an otherwise entertaining story.
Note from Julieanne: There are at least two ways of looking at the references in this book to the Shakers' cult founder, Mother Ann. The first viewpoint, expressed above, is that praying to Mother Ann and God is blasphemy and that the author is intending on encouraging the reader to embrace the Shaker traditions and beliefs. A second viewpoint of this is that the author is merely alerting us to the deceptive methods that cults have of encouraging their members to believe in concepts that are contrary to the Bible. I believe the author, Ann Gabhart, is showing us an insight into the Shaker culture and community, without encouraging the reader to hold to those same beliefs, but our reviewer today felt otherwise, and it made her very uncomfortable. I don't hold to the Shaker beliefs, and am a firm believer in Jesus Christ alone - without Mother Ann! I didn't feel uncomfortable reading books in this series. Each reader will need to be alert to these unscriptural references to a falsely lifted up human being in this series of books.
Hi! I'm Julieanne!