WARNING: Reading this article may give away things in the story ranging from unimportant to plot turners.
The First Love by Beverly Lewis
Type: Amish, Christian
Basic Plot: Maggie was born with arthritis, causing her immense pain. All she wants is to be like the other Amish girls so she can help her family and friends to the fullest. Her seeking heart eventually draws her to the revival tent meetings of the 1950s, where answers to her problems are lurking.
Plot: 3/5 Average: Like other Beverly Lewis books, the story focuses little on romance and mostly on other things, this time faith in God, health, and family, something which is common in Beverly Lewis books. The story feels very ordinary at times as opposed though, as opposed to relatable or thought provoking. It doesn’t really have any new themes in it, a lot of the same things that can be found in any other Christian book. The biggest disappointment was probably that though the book is set in the fifties, it has almost nothing about the time period talked about, though perhaps that is because the Amish have changed little in sixty years.
Writing Style and Setup: 3½/5 Above Average: Most Amish books move at a leisurely pace, this being not exception. I wouldn’t call the style slow or boring, but expect to spend a lot of time on small everyday details, emotions, and expressing the current and slowly moving state of things.
Moral: 3½/5 Good Morals: The book has the generic themes of faith in God and understanding of others, as well as moving on. The first is the main moral, showing Maggie move to acceptance and peace in whatever God has for her, whether it is healing of some kind or permanent pain. Other characters in the book learn to accept death of others or understand other’s pain. The morals are talked about and even the focus of the story.
Overall: 3½/5 Above Average: This book is pretty good for an Amish book, but about average as a whole. It would probably get the interest of women and girls, starting at around in the younger teens.
Sexual and Inappropriate Content: 1/5 Clean Romance and Light Physical Contact: The romance and dating talked about in the book is fairly innocent. In a marriage there is some kissing on the lips (about four), cheek, and temple; light flirting; knee patting; and hand holding. A man is shirtless in front of his wife. Outside of marriage there is some leaning on the shoulder and face touching. A woman blushes when a man helps her by grabbing her waist. Terms of endearment are used for spouses including “peach” and “dear,” and characters blush because they are thinking of or looking at the person they like.
Violence: 0/5 None
Swearing and Using the Lord’s Name in Vain: 0/5 None
Emotional, Intense, and Disturbing Content: 2/5 Mentions of Death and Health Issues: Maggie has a lot of pain from her arthritis, though it rarely goes into detail about the pain, usually only its affects on what she can do. It does mention it causes fevers, headaches, Something talked about is that the mother of the main character’s has died, and the affect this has on the family is talked about. A girl talks about witnessing the death, and the emotions the characters feel are discussed. A boy talks about hurting his leg and having to get stitches, as well as nearly being permanently crippled. Jesus Christ healing those that were blind, lame, and paralyzed is briefly talked about. It mentions a woman had scarlet fever once, which caused heart disease. It mentions a woman was sick with an unnamed disease. A woman talks about being healed from a chronic migraine. A woman has a sprain. A woman has morning sickness and a girl thinks she will faint though she doesn’t. A man’s arm bleeds. It mentions Jesus getting stripes for us. A woman remembers she once wondered if birds took care of hurt birds. Death is mention. Characters nearly cry many times for happy and sad reasons. Forms of “death” and “died” are used for descriptive purposes.
Religious Issues: 1/5 Brief Mention: All of the characters are either Amish or Mennonite, which are mentioned to have come from the Anabaptist. There is brief mention of women wearing head garments, and the Amish baptism and vow are talked about, though not in detail. It mentions that a person once suggested that Maggie go to a “powwow doctor” to be healed, which her family refused. A girl is compared to a preacher for being wise. “Lucky” is used for descriptive purposes.
Magic: 0/5 None
Others: A man mentions he stopped planting tobacco. “Dancing” is used for descriptive purposes. The Budget, Farmer’s Almanac, and Biewel are mentioned.
Overall: 2½/5 Older Child Appropriate: There isn’t much, if anything, in this book that I would think is inappropriate for anyone who was at the comprehension level it takes to read it. I would recommend it morally for children ten to twelve and older.