Sarah’s Orphans (Vannetta Chapman) – Review

5 stars


Sarah's OrphansPublisher’s Description:
Sarah Yoder belongs to a Plain community in Oklahoma, but her days are far from simple. Life suddenly gets complicated when a series of tragic events unfold, leaving her in charge of the household.

Alone with her younger siblings, Sarah is exhausted but finally at peace. Then she nearly runs over a small Hispanic boy with her buggy…and somehow finds herself sheltering two more orphans.

Paul Byler moved to Cody’s Creek to help his brother in a time of need. But now that Joseph has recovered from his heart attack, Paul’s ready for a quiet place of his own. The only problem? His new property lands him next door to the orphaned Yoder family—and a calling from God he can’t seem to ignore.

A story of extraordinary grace and love in the face of desperate need, Sarah’s Orphans is the third standalone novel in the Plain and Simple Miracles collection by Vannetta Chapman.


Andy had stopped pacing and was staring at her as if she’d sprouted rooster feathers and was about to start crowing.  “There are two of them?”
Sarah suppressed a sigh with great difficulty.  “For the third time.  Yes.  There are two children.  Mateo is in Isaac and Luke’s room.  I made him a pallet on the floor, which is a big improvement over the box he was living in.  I’d rather have a bed for him, but-”
“Sarah, what are you talking about?  Surely you’re not thinking about them staying here.  We can’t possibly take in two homeless kids.”
She glanced down at the child in her arms.  After another dose of medicine, little Mia was finally sleeping and her fever had definitely broken.  Perhaps it was merely a cold.  Maybe she’d simply needed some hot food and dry clothes.  Sarah thought about arguing with her brother.  She almost reminded him of the sermon from that very morning.  She very nearly told him that they, more than anyone else, understood how it felt to be abandoned.
Instead, she said, “Hold her for a minute.  I need to make some tea.”
Andy sank onto the couch.  She gently placed Mia in his arms.
“Supposing we could keep them, and I’m not saying that we could or even that we should.  But supposing we could, how do we know that their parents aren’t looking for them?”
“You think they’re runaways?”
“If it were just the boy, maybe, but most runaways don’t take their baby sister with them.”
He ran a hand up and down his jaw line.
Sarah realized as she watched him in the dimness of the lantern light that her brother was no longer a boy.  Somewhere along the difficult road of the past few years, he’d become a man.
“We’re going to have to tell the police and the bishop, and get a translator.”
Sarah nodded as if she agreed with him.  “But he left a note on one of the boxes.  Maybe their mother will come back.  Maybe she’s just been away for a few hours.”
“You think she was living in the trailer too?”
There had been no sign of a mother, but it was possible.
Sarah shrugged.  “I’m only saying that maybe we should give it a day or two.”
“I don’t know if that’s legal.”  Andy stood and stretched.  “I could sleep on the couch, but I suppose it’s best to drag myself upstairs.”
“Carry her for me?”
As Sarah followed her brother up the stairs, she prayed that Mia’s health would improve, that Mateo would be less frightened in the morning, and that somehow they could learn what had happened to the children’s mother.  One thing she knew for certain.  Though a language and probably a faith separated them, her family had more in common with these two children than they did with any other Amish family in their district.  They were all abandoned.  Perhaps they could look after one another.


My review
I think this might be my favourite of Vannetta Chapman’s Plain and Simple Miracles series.  First of all, the story tugged firmly at my heartstrings as Sarah grappled with being left in charge of her four younger brothers, and then with the plight of Mateo and Mia, two Hispanic children who have been abandoned by their mother.  And secondly, while it does not downplay the devastation of a mother abandoning her children, it also treats the two mothers who do so in this novel with grace and compassion.

Readers who have been following this series will remember Sarah from Joshua’s Mission, but you don’t have to have read that novel prior to reading this one.  Sarah’s family situation has been challenging and unpredictable for many years due to her father’s bi-polar disorder.  His death occurs at the opening of the novel, leaving the family destitute and in danger of losing their home.  Sarah’s mother responds by retreating further and further into herself, until she finally announces that she cannot stay there a minute longer, and leaves to stay with her cousin in Florida.

Although they are already struggling to keep up their home and farm, Sarah cannot overlook the plight of Mateo and his little sister, Mia, when she discovers the dilapidated trailer they have been living in.  They, too, have been abandoned by their mother and, convicted by the Bible’s command to care for the widows and orphans, Sarah begins the process of becoming a Bridge parent, and eventually applying for permanent placement.

It is an emotional journey, during which Sarah finds herself questioning God’s goodness and struggling to leave her fears for the future in His hands, but she is surrounded by a community of people who support her in wisdom: Her father’s mother, Mammi, who arrives unexpectedly; Bishop Levi and his wife; her friend, Becca; the school teacher, Brian Walker; and her new neighbour, Paul Byler.

Paul is a quiet, serious man, a few years older than Sarah, and feeling his way a little bit when it comes to showing Sarah how much he is coming to care for her and her family.  The poor guy has more luck with his practical gestures than his romantic ones!  As has been the case with the previous novels in the series, this romance was gentle, but heartfelt, and although their busy lives do not give them a lot of time together, Paul is her rock when it counts.  And yet how can Sarah commit to  Paul when there is so much uncertainty in her life?

Mateo is the third point of view character in the novel, and both his and Mia’s voices were well done and authentic.  It’s easy to see why Sarah fell in love with them!  The other thing that has really stood out for me across this whole series is the way in which the characters are so relatable, and yet remain authentically Amish.  Some novels tend to emphasize the differences between Englischers and the Amish, making them central to the story’s conflict.  These stories, on the other hand, deal with the kinds of struggles that are common to all people, but place them in the context of the Amish community.

A lovely read.

I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Buy from US:                                       Amazon  //  iBooks

Buy from AU:                                       Amazon  //  iBooks  //  Koorong

Release date:  1 September 2016
Pages:  368
Harvest House Publishers
Author’s website:

Previous books in the series:

Read my review for Anna’s Healing.

Read my review for Joshua’s Mission.

About Fiction Aficionado

Homeschooling mum, word lover, reader extraordinaire, and follower of Christ
This entry was posted in Amish Fiction, Book Reviews, Christian Fiction, New Releases and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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