Anna’s Healing is the first book in a brand-new collection from popular author Vannetta Chapman. These stories of love and family and Amish community in Oklahoma tell of the miracles that can happen when lives are lived in service to God and to one another.
When a tornado strikes the farms surrounding Cody’s Creek, Anna Schwartz’s life is changed forever. She suffers a spinal cord injury and suddenly finds herself learning to live as a paraplegic.
Three people—Chloe Roberts, Jacob Graber, and Ruth Schwartz—join forces to help Anna through her darkest days. Chloe is an Englischer who writes for the local paper. Jacob has recently arrived in town and stays on as a hired hand at her uncle’s. And Ruth is her grandmother, a woman of deep faith and a compassionate spirit.
Then one morning Anna wakes and finds herself healed. How did it happen? Why did it happen? And what is she to do now? Her life is again turned upside down as the world’s attention is drawn to this young Amish girl who has experienced the unexplainable.
“Jacob ignored the tears pricking his eyes. He didn’t want to stain Anna’s day with his own emotions, but the look of wonder on her face satisfied a spot deep in his heart.”
This story drew me in from the moment I began reading it, and I’m not sure that it has let me go yet. A beautiful story in its own right, it really comes to life under the pen of Vannetta Chapman. The characters are well drawn, the writing is concise yet rich with detail and emotion, and the plot is compelling, at times surprising, and took me on a journey far beyond what I had imagined from the synopsis.
Anna Swartz is 24 years of age – beyond the age at which most young Amish women are married and beginning families, and yet she is ambivalent about the idea of courting and settling down. She has left her parents’ home in Indiana to stay with her onkel and aenti in Cody’s Creek, Oklahoma, hoping that a change of scene will calm her restlessness and help her find her ‘place’.
Jacob Graber is restless too, moving around the country from one Amish community to another, hiring himself out as a labourer. His arrival in Cody’s Creek was not by his own design, but will change the course of his life.
Not long after Jacob’s arrival in Cody’s Creek the region is hit by a twister. While the majority of the damage was limited to buildings and crops, Anna suffers a spinal column injury that leaves her a paraplegic. Her family and the wider community rally around her, but it is a difficult time for Anna as she adjusts to her new situation. Then one day her Mammi asks her, “Do you believe in miracles?”
Well, do you? I mean, do you really believe? And how do you deal with one when it occurs?
I had assumed that the healing itself would be the culmination of the plot, but fortunately Vannetta Chapman wrote this book, not me, because exploring the aftermath of Anna’s healing took the story to a whole new level. Sometimes the more important healing occurs when we stop focusing on what we have lost and begin to appreciate what we have been given; when, instead of asking, “Why Lord?” we begin to ask, “What would you have me do now Lord?” There are no pat answers here, but plenty to challenge us in our Christian walk.
As a final remark, I will say that it is some time since I have felt the emotions of the characters quite so keenly as I did in this novel. I reached for a tissue more than once, and the love that grew between Jacob and Anna, while not the focus of the novel, was beautiful in its simplicity and expression.
I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for my review.