In this evocative and heartrending novel, New York Times bestselling author Shelley Shepard Gray “has created an endearing cast of characters...that both delights and surprises—and will keep you thinking about the story long after you turned the last page” (Leslie Gould, #1 bestselling author).
Marie Hartman never thought she’d move back to Walnut Creek but, still reeling from a friend’s heartbreaking passing, she’s desperate for the comforts of home. And she’s determined to surround herself with people who care more about her heart than her striking looks. Vowing to reconnect with her childhood best friends and find a larger meaning in life, she’s also decided it’s finally time to summon the courage to see if there’s something more between her and longtime friend John Byler than just companionship.
Marie’s homecoming forces John to reassess his life and his hopes for the future. Though he still lives at home with the rest of his old order Amish family, lately he’s been feeling that God intends for him to go another direction. But does He really want John to go against his faith and finally do something about his longtime crush on Marie?
With her signature “taut writing” (RT Book Reviews), Shelley Shepard Gray delivers a lyrical and heartfelt tale of friendship and forgiveness.
Gray (His Promise) opens the Walnut Creek Series with this enjoyable story of two lifelong friends, an Amish man and a non-Amish woman, who realize that they want to be more than friends. Eight friends grew up in Walnut Creek, Ohio. Three were English (non-Amish), three were Amish, and two were Mennonite, yet they had overcome their religious differences to remain close, until adulthood sent them in different directions. When Andy, the leader of the group, hangs himself, the remaining friends gather at the funeral and decide they need to stay in closer contact. For Marie Hartman, that means leaving her successful life in Cleveland and buying a home in Walnut Creek. She's determined to get Amish John Byler to notice her. John has had feelings for Marie for a long time but won't pursue her because she isn't of the faith. When an Amish friend challenges John to do something about how he feels, John makes a decision, both regarding Marie and whether to be baptized again into the Amish faith. But when John makes his decision and faces being ostracized by his community, he and Marie discover that overcoming their differences may be harder than they imagined. While readers will finish wanting to know more about the other members of the original friend group, this is a pleasing story about recovering from grief and a solid beginning for a new series.
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The Walnut Creek Series
The Patient One is a touching story about friendship, love, patience, family, and faith. Will, Elizabeth Anne, Harley, Logan, Katie, Marie, John and Andy plus Andy’s little sister, Tricia have been friends since childhood. The fact that they were from different religions does not bother them (Old Order Amish, Mennonite, English and New Order Amish) or affect their friendship. The group is devastated when Andy kills himself. They do not understand why he did not talk to one of them. The group had drifted a little as they took on adult responsibilities and jobs, but they would drop everything for one of the group (as we saw in Friends to the End). Marie has moved back to Walnut Creek, and she wants to finally explore her feelings for John Byler. Their relationship will be complicated since John was raised Amish, but he has not been baptized. Molly Byler, John’s younger sister, became paralyzed after a buggy accident when she was nine. She is now sixteen and wants to be treated as any other girl her age. Molly is thrilled when Danny Eberly wishes to spend time with her. I like that the characters are from different backgrounds. As John and Marie explore their romantic relationship, their differing views come into play. It provides interest and depth to the book. Logan and Tricia (their story began in Friends to the End) are included peripherally in the story. There are updates on their progressing relationship. We get to see how this group of friends deal with the loss of a close friend. The friends must deal with grief, guilt, anger, and confusion. None of them understand why Andy did not confide to one of them. I hope we get answers about Andy in future books. The Patient One has Shelley Shepard Gray’s signature writing style which drew me in right away. The story is well-written with pacing that suits the book. The characters are complex along with their situations. I look forward to learning more about each character as the series progresses. Patience is a recurring theme in The Patient One. Patience with people, situations and life. All things happen in His timing, not ours. My favorite line in the book was “even in the darkness of times there was always a glimmer of light”. I recommend reading Friends to the End before embarking on The Patient One. The Patient One is an insightful and emotional story that will touch your heart.