Beverly Lewis’ newest book, The Tinderbox, is an interesting read about an Englisher who converts to being an Old Order Amish and lives 20 years with a secret that could change everything. Everything for himself, his family and the community that has grown to trust and respect him. Sylvia Miller is an eighteen-year-old daughter of Earnest Miller. She knew that he had another life before, but they didn’t speak much about it as a family. One of the things from his old life that always intrigued her was an heirloom tinderbox. Once before she had tried to sneak a look at the contents of the box, but had found in firmly locked. Years later now, she is cleaning in his shop and a key to the tinderbox gets dusted off of a high shelf. Still being curious, she steals a look inside and she is confused at what she finds.
When Earnest finds out that it was Sylvia who looked in the box, and saw the contents, he decides that he needs to come clean about a secret that he has kept from his life before he met his wife of 20 years, Rhoda. A secret that will change things forever, but one that he can no longer hold on to.
This book is full of a lot of things that are hard to bear. A long respected religious member of the community, and long time friend of Earnest, is dying of cancer. Rhoda’s sister has just suffered another miscarriage and asks her sister to keep this information a secret. Rhoda tries to help her sister get through this loss while trying to respect her need to privacy. Earnest’s secret turns his close-knit family into turmoil. Sylvia is newly engaged to the preachers grandson and their family secret will have implications on their relationship.
This book is a lot darker than I expected. The characters are wonderful, but what they go through is hard to read at some points. The ending is unexpected and is not the resolution that I was convinced was going to happen to wrap up this story full of so much heartache. You will need to read this book for yourself to understand how this family and the community will take their next steps to move on.