9780310327363Reviewed by Meg Massey

A Plain and Simple Christmas is the story of Anna Mae McDonough, a young woman missing her family at Christmas time. Four years after being shunned from her tight-knit Amish community for marrying her English husband Kellan, Anna Mae longs to return to her childhood home of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. But Anna Mae is fearful that her return will anger her father, who did not take the news of her leaving the community well. With the encouragement of her husband, Anna Mae contacts her sister-in-law and childhood friend Kathryn, hoping that Kathryn can help her plan the visit.

Kathryn is thrilled to receive a letter from Anna Mae, and immediately begins to plan a secret visit for the sister-in-law she has missed so much. But when Kathryn’s husband David finds out about the plan, he is not excited at the prospect of seeing his sister, nor is he convinced that his father will be accepting of Anna Mae. Sure enough, when Anna Mae returns, her family does not react in the way that she hoped, despite her announcement that she is expecting her first child. Will the family be able to overcome their differences, or has Anna Mae’s choice to join the English world separated her from her family forever?

Amy Clipston’s A Plain and Simple Christmas is a heartwarming tale of family and the power of forgiveness. Anna Mae is a complex young woman who is torn between two worlds; the English world that she chose when she married her husband, and the plain lifestyle in which she grew up and would later leave behind. The character of Kathryn is a well-written, playing the role of a supportive family member who believes that Anna Mae is meant to return home during the holiday season.

Clipston brilliantly captures the process of shunning within the Amish community, and the devastation it causes to all of those involved. But she demonstrates that peace and forgiveness is possible between Anna Mae and members of her family. All in all, this book is a fantastic read that any Amish fiction enthusiast will enjoy, particularly during the holiday season.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Meg lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, Ryan. Library professional by day, freelance writer by night, Meg writes about life, entertainment and everything in between on her blog.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Zondervan. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.