Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Powerful Odor of Mendacity

by Dee Yoder

The turbulent mid 1960’s is Annie Thomas’s era to conquer, but how can a twiggy, awkward girl find her place in a world that changes day by day? Her experiences are about to expand when she and her family move into a modern suburban neighborhood from a sleepy farm town. Right away, Annie understands being the new kid, and worse, moving into the neighborhood “haunted” house, sets her up for torment and teasing. It doesn’t help that she is a bit peculiar, a frail girl who hates bullies and doesn’t have the good sense to avoid riling them. Real life infiltrates Annie’s home and school as the Viet Nam War, civil unrest, childhood loss, moral confusion, and proliferating hormones invade her previously protected world. How will she cope with these revolutions and revelations among her friends and family, let alone with her own self?

Annie Thomas enters fourth grade in the fall of 1966. Her first encounter is with the neighborhood bully. Though she tries to overlook him, his goading and heckling send her blood pressure soaring. In the first few weeks, she endeavors to adjust to her contemporary school, complicated by a teacher who despairs of her and classmates who range from mature sophisticates to mindless bobble heads. A simple eye test reveals the mystery of Annie’s educational woes, but what can explain the terrifying peeper who lurks in the shadows outside Annie’s bedroom window? And nothing can clarify the dread of the far-away Viet Nam war. Annie learns the consequences of that war are closer than she thinks.

Annie’s older sister, Kinsey, and Kinsey’s southerner friend, Peach, are on a journey of their own: a boy- crazy trip that obliges Annie to witness feminine wiles which make her gag. Her humiliation is complete when the two teens conspire to drag Annie, kicking and screaming, into the reality of the lingerie department. After all, Annie is nearing that age…that age of burgeoning growth and the need for her first brassiere.

Annie also learns she has a capacity to purposely harm someone. Her sniping attitude toward her beleaguered best friend brings consequences and tear-filled sleepless nights as she wrestles with jealousy and envy. How does God fit into the picture? What does He expect from her as she matures? How does she cope with realizing she has inherited the sinful nature of Adam she had never before known existed in her character?

Annie’s coming-of-age story is wacky and sweet, na├»vely hilarious and poignant, but, ultimately, it acquaints her with life finally happening to her. It illuminates the years when she develops more than a womanly body, but an attentive and awakening soul as well.

The Way Out

by Dee Yoder

Leah Raber has made a decision to escape the oppressive Amish community in which she was born. She decides to make a fresh start among the less strict Amish in Holmes County, Ohio. At first, it appears she has made the right decision, but soon, the same spiritual questions which plagued her when she left the Amish two years before are back. Being born Amish has led to her desire to try again to live the life and follow the Ordnung. Can she make a life for herself, with the help of her Amish beau, in a "higher" church? Is it possible to rely only on grace, and not works, and still be Amish? What happens when her decisions bring the church officials to her door, once again? Is the gossip surrounding her true? Is it really possible to live an easier life in any Amish community?

In this second in a series about the stricter and more reclusive, Amish Old Order and Swartzentruber sects, Leah struggles to succeed as an Amish young lady in the New Order sect, as her soul wars with her desire to wholly follow Christ.

This novel and the previous novel, The Miting, are based upon the real life experiences of my former Amish friends.

The Miting

by Dee Yoder

Leah Raber, a seventeen-year-old Amish girl, is beginning to have questions about her family life, her faith, and her community. She wonders why the Amish have to be so old fashioned, why her
family’s life is so hard, why the church has so many rules, and, especially, why godly men are allowing her best friend to be abused in her own home. But she is not permitted to speak to anyone about her questions or about her feelings of being trapped in the Amish lifestyle.

For Leah, rumspringen is not her trouble. She has no desire to party all night or sneak into Englisher clothing and go to movies. At the heart of Leah’s restlessness is her growing desire to know God. Why
shouldn’t her parents be glad that, instead of following the evils of the English world, she wants to attend Bible studies that the Wengerds, an ex-Amish couple, are leading? Instead, they’re very unhappy with her new friends, and, more than that, the bishoff has hinted that this couple kidnaps and lures Amish teens away from their communities and homes. The idea that Leah could become enmeshed with Matthew and Naomi Wengerd causes her parents great concern.

An argument with her parents leads Leah to a breaking point. As she is heading to the local general store, she suddenly decides to call the Wengerds to come and help her leave home. She walks away with only the clothes on her back and nothing else. It is time for Leah to start over in the English world.

Though Leah does well in her new life, homesickness causes her to question her decision to leave the Amish. But going back home is not as she imagined it would be, and the miting she faces when she fails yet again in her Amish life is like nothing she could have imagined.