- Author Shelley Shepard Gray
- Release Date April 9, 2019
- Publisher Gallery Books
- ISBN/ASIN 9781982100872
- Our Rating
- Reviewed by Dorine
THE PATIENT ONE by Shelley Shepard Gray, book one in her new Walnut Creek series, is a beautiful story about friendship and faith without limitations. Eight friends of different faiths find themselves at one of their funerals. How did their lives as adults grow so far apart that they didn’t know one of their friends was in trouble?
Seven friends meet after Andy’s funeral and wonder what happened. They ask Katie to tell a story about Andy when they were the Eight. Katie begins her story in the first chapter. It’s a story within a story, a unique technique that encourages the reader to rush ahead.
As the friends reconnect, Marie and John can’t hold back their affection for one another any longer. Their relationship should never happen as John was raised Amish and Marie is an Englischer, which is what the Amish call those who aren’t Amish.
John is at a crossroads. He delayed being baptized because he wasn’t sure he was ready to commit to being Amish forever. Baptism in the Amish faith occurs when someone raised Amish is ready to pledge fully to the lifestyle. Marie coming back into town makes John realize he has a lot to think about. Can they make a relationship work somehow?
There are several relationships blossoming in this story. I especially enjoyed John’s little sister, Molly, who is in a wheelchair. I loved witnessing her personal growth and her family’s acceptance of her choices. She’s strong, and I loved her positive attitude.
Shelley Shepard Gray is a new-to-me author. I chose her book to review because I love faith-based Amish stories but especially books that take place in the Amish country I know well and love in Ohio. Most of the food I eat is grown by the Amish, and when I need to regroup, a day in Amish country makes me feel closer to God.
THE PATIENT ONE is representative of how I wish every small town could be. Where people can live together in harmony and accept one another for our differences. I’m sure that every Amish order isn’t as accepting of change as in this story, but it’s sure how I’d love it to be. I have such great respect for the Amish way of life and dream of someday living among them.
Shelley Shepard Gray’s story within a story technique is brilliant. When the main story slows down, the smaller story at the beginning of each chapter pulls me forward. They’re woven together so beautifully that I can’t imagine the book without both. It’s rare that I appreciate those small quotes at the beginning of a chapter that are based on some other story that the author feels works with her novel. Bible quotations in faith-based stories are often overused. Yet this method is perfect and something I feel adds tremendously to the overall effect of this book.
I felt that the end of this novel was a bit melancholy, and it surprised me. I can’t remember ever reading anything like it. Even though it’s slightly melancholy, it’s filled with hope for the future. It’s hard to get the vision portrayed in those last few pages out of my head. That’s how visually powerful it is. So beautiful.
I can’t wait to continue this series with Katie’s story in THE LOYAL ONE, releasing in August 2019. THE PATIENT ONE is a lovely story about childhood friendships and how they affect the rest of our lives. If only we could all go back and be the support for each other as adults. Sensitive, kind, and filled with love, this novel is rich with great storytelling in a place of hope.