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Book Review

The Telling by Beverly Lewis has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the third book in the “Seasons of Grace” series.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Grace Byler is a young Amish woman. Her father has asked her to go to Baltic, Ohio, and find her mother, who recently fled their Amish community. They live in Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania. Her mother left without telling anyone goodbye.

Heather, a 24-year-old non-Amish woman and therefore an “Englischer” to Grace, volunteers to drive Grace the 500 miles to Baltic. She seems to understands Heather's angst. Even though the girls are very different — Grace raised “plain” and Heather raised “fancy” — they find they enjoy each other’s company.

Heather is only in Grace's area because she has breast cancer and will be entering a nearby naturopathic healing lodge. The building is close to Grace's home. Heather will be there for two weeks and hopes her cancer will go into remission.

When the girls arrive in Baltic, they find that Grace's mother has already left. They return to Bird-in-Hand without her.

Leaving an Amish community, as Grace's mother did, without the consent of family and church, is a serious offense. Grace's whole family will be involved in the consequences. That makes Grace reluctant to move forward with Yonnie’s offer of courting her, even though Grace would like his attention.

Yonnie is easygoing and pleasant. He has a nice smile and is a hard worker. He helped Grace’s father with their lambing season. Grace, the eldest daughter of a farm family, must now do the work of her mother.

Heather enters the Wellness Lodge and battles the toxins in her body, which are thought to be feeding the cancer. Her cleansing fast starts out leaving her craving solid food and moves her into a flu-like state as her body expels the toxins.

Then Grace’s mother, Lettie, returns. At first Lettie is unsure of how her family, especially her husband, Judah, will respond to her. She arranges to stay with a neighbor. Judah goes to her to find out why she left.

Lettie confesses that she had a baby daughter when she was 16 and gave it up for adoption to an English couple. Lettie didn’t want to give the baby up but her parents had insisted. They used to live in a community in Ohio. Lettie had gone to Ohio to try to find her daughter. Judah is crushed and walks out, leaving Lettie alone to face the bishop with her confession.

Because of the length of time involved and the number of cover-ups for Lettie’s sins, the bishop handles her confession seriously. To make things right, the bishops ask her to make a choice between being shunned for six weeks (a period of time when no one is allowed to talk to her or about her or acknowledge her presence), or do a kneeling confession before the whole church. Lettie is terrified about telling everyone her darkest secret sin, but she needs to tell the truth and set things right, especially with Judah, so she chooses the confession, trusting God for the outcome.

Heather’s time at the Wellness Lodge is almost over. Once done, she will return to Virginia to finish her thesis and help her dad sell his home. Grace’s grandmother Adah, Lettie’s mother, has discovered that Heather was adopted in the city where Lettie gave birth, on the same day. She could be Lettie’s daughter.

Lettie’s kneeling confession is scheduled to happen on the next preaching Sunday, the same day Heather is set to be released. Heather, as an outsider, is unable to attend the service, but wants to tell Grace goodbye. She waits outside the church. Adah sees her and decides she has to talk to her about her birth and adoption.

Adah discovers that Heather is probably Lettie’s daughter. After Lettie confesses, the whole voting congregation unanimously votes to reinstate Lettie in good standing. As Lettie leaves the church, Adah introduces Heather to her. As they talk, they both realize who the other person is.

Because Lettie is back in good standing, forgiven by God and the whole community, Grace is able to accept Yonnie’s proposal to court when he asks again. Heather has to leave the area to check in with her doctor, finish her school term and help her dad, but she and her newfound family choose to keep in touch through letters.

Heather’s dad decides to build his new “Amish” house in Lettie’s community so Heather will be able to visit. Heather’s blood work looks promising, and all are hoping she is on her way to health and recovery from cancer. Heather’s friend Jim starts to become more than just a friend to her.

Christian Beliefs

Grace prays to Jesus and tells Heather that God loves her. Heather’s friend Jim composes a prayer for Heather’s well-being and healing.

Adah and Jakob confess their past sin in forcing Lettie to give up her baby. Lettie places her desire to find the baby she gave up for adoption in God's hands. Prayers are said at Lettie’s confession.

Lettie acknowledges that prayer was the reason this gift (Heather) has been brought back into her life. Grace and Yonnie pledge their lives to the Lord.

Other Belief Systems


Authority Roles

Lettie acknowledges her husband, Judah, as her head. The deacons and bishop of the Bird-in-Hand Amish community are looked to as their spiritual leaders and heads of the community. Their decisions are final and are accepted as being correct.

Heather respects her father and doesn’t want to hurt him in her search for her birth mother. Grace respects her father’s request — that she travel to Ohio and try to find her mother. He wants her to bring Lettie home.

Yonnie respects Grace’s wish to remain friends while things are unsettled with Lettie and does not push her for more information nor to court her.




Lettie became pregnant at the age of 16.

Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

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Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

16 and up


Beverly Lewis






Record Label



Bethany House, an imprint of the Baker Publishing Group


On Video

Year Published





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