“Forgiveness is the longest road, yet it is the shortest distance between two hearts.” —Whinburg Amish proverb
Thirteen years ago, two little Amish girls disappeared from an orchard in Whinburg Township, Pennsylvania. It was just a blip on the TV news … until it became very, very personal for Megan and Ashley Pearson.
Ashley doesn’t believe the story has anything to do with her. A straight-A student, she’s leaving for college with her boyfriend, and nothing is going to interfere with her plans for her life. But Megan isn’t so sure. She’s had dreams and nightmares that could be explained by long-buried memories. A road trip to Whinburg Township might give her some answers—and give her empty life a purpose besides playing video games in her parents’ basement.
Samuel Riehl left the Amish church when his shame over his part in his sisters' disappearance grew too heavy to carry, and is trying to live Englisch, never quite able to look into a passing buggy in case he sees his mother’s face. And Rebecca Riehl, the Amish woman who lost not two, but three children all those years ago, has never stopped loving them, never stopped praying for them, and never stopped hoping that God will grant her a miracle.
Two sisters want the truth. Two mothers want their daughters back. But will betrayal and loss prove stronger than love on the longest road home?
Senft's (Balm of Gilead) novel begins on a late November day 13 years ago, with two little Amish girls and their older brother Samuel going walnut picking. When Samuel runs into friends and becomes distracted, the young girls disappear, never to be seen again. Samuel cannot recover from his guilt and abandons his home and the Amish community, leaving their mother, Rebecca Riehl, with three empty place settings at her dinner table "until God in his wisdom and mercy did bring them back." Meanwhile Megan and Ashley Pearson grow up thinking they have no connection to the missing girls, but Megan is plagued by nightmares that indicate a mystery in her past. While Ashley is eager to enter college, Megan spends her days gaming and working at a coffee bar. The girls' identity is divulged early in the book, with their mother, Janet, revealing where they were found in the woods; faced with this newfound truth, Megan is eager to hit the road to discover their true family while Ashley reluctantly comes along. In this first book of a new series, Senft, a prolific author of 36 books, has crafted an appealing tale of searching for one's true identity. There is also an interesting study of the two mothers and how they have coped one with her loss, the other with her guilt, and the role of faith in that process. (BookLife)