I finished Anna’s Crossing by Suzanne Woods Fisher recently. The book is a well-written, interesting account of a group of Amish and Mennonite people immigrating from Germany to America or “the New World” on the ship the Charming Nancy in 1737. I love historical fiction and immigration stories.
The story focuses on the main character, Anna, and her experiences as she starts a new life away from all that she loves and is familiar with. I like how Anna clearly is imperfect and struggles but depends on her faith in God to overcome her challenges (consisting of this journey being something she doesn’t want, as well as the horrible conditions the passengers have to deal with). There is also a bit of romance when Anna meets a man (the ship’s carpenter) who turns out to have a connection to her childhood in Germany.
There actually was a ship called Charming Nancy that did take a group of Amish and Mennonite immigrants to America in 1737, but there isn’t a lot of documentation. I admire an author who can take a time in history that we don’t really know a lot about and make it into a well-written book.
This book helped me as far as my perception of Christian fiction. I was of the opinion that for the most part, Christian fiction in general (and Amish fiction especially) romanticized life and was unrealistic. There is a place for the happily-ever-after escapism, but I like the books I read to have plots that I could actually picture happening. The characters in Anna’s Crossing are people with weaknesses, fears and hopes, and it’s easy to relate to them. The author doesn’t sugarcoat the circumstances of the people on the Charming Nancy, although she doesn’t stray into overly graphic or raunchy territory either.
I will say I don’t necessarily agree with all the Amish views; I have issues with the idea of ostracizing or shunning someone because they don’t go to your church. In fairness, I am by no means an expert on Amish customs, or their reasoning behind shunning, or if it is something the Amish community as a whole or only a certain denomination or segment of the community does. There definitely is something to be said for a close-knit, self-sufficient community that isn’t a slave to technology, and there is nothing intrinsically wrong with being “different” or not doing things the way everyone else does. Being different has its advantages.
I am going to make an effort to become more familiar with this author’s books.