(You can also download a sample of the book here.)
A Summer Secret by Kathleen Fuller
The Mysteries of Middlefield Series #1
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Dynamic Uno here: A Summer Secret is the first Amish fiction book that I have ever read. I know it's a popular genre, but I've never really picked one up to read until I asked to review this book. Amish fiction has always intimidated me because I don't really know anything about their culture and I was afraid that I wouldn't understand what was going on in the story because I've always perceived their simplistic culture as completely foreign to my own "city life." I finally decided to jump in with both feet and read this young adult book and was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked the characters.
Mary Beth is the oldest girl in a family with 3 brothers and her parents in Middlefield. (She's older than her twin brother, Johnny, by just a short amount of time, but she's the oldest nonetheless.) After doing more than her share of chores and babysitting, Mary Beth likes to escape to the old abandoned barn to write and draw in her journal. The only problem is, she's been told by her parents not to go out there because she might get hurt, which means she's disobeying her parents--a major no-no in any culture. One afternoon, as Mary Beth was in the barn, she found a button on the ground. Puzzled, because the Amish do not wear buttons, she attributed it to the former owners of the barn and put it in her prayer kappe for later. Unfortunately, as she was leaving, her brother Johnny found her in the barn and she had to agree to let him use it too or he would tell their parents that she had disobeyed them. Not happy about the arrangement, Mary Beth had to agree or get into trouble.
Mary Beth realized that after making the agreement with Johnny that she'd better remove her journal and snacks from the old barn before he found them and read through and ate everything. When she returned to the barn, she found that several of her snacks had been eaten and that her journal had been ear-marked as if someone had been reading it. After confronting Johnny, she realized that he was telling her the truth about not having touched the journal, so she tried to figure out who else had access to it. She also noticed some shoe prints in the ground that didn't belong to an Amish person. Between the button and the shoe prints, Mary Beth knew something was going on in the old barn and she was determined to find out what it was. Bringing her brother Johnny in on it, they continued to search for clues as to whom owned the items. You'll have to read the book to find out what they find!
Overall, I was impressed with this first book in the Mysteries of Middlefield series by Kathleen Fuller. Mary Beth and her brother and very likable characters and act just like other teenagers that I work with--minus the MP3 players and cell phones. It was interesting learning about the Amish culture and it was integrated into the storyline very nicely. If you're looking for a cute mystery for your tween/teen to read, or even yourself, then this is the book for you. You can purchase the book here or here. Let me know what you think!