The Forbidden by Beverly Lewis is the second book in “The Courtship of Nellie Fisher” series. The local Amish church has split between two factions: the Old Order group who wants to keep to the strict rules they have always had and a new group who believe one can know they are saved and that they belong to God. There are some in the new group who are primarily interested in being able to use more modern conveniences like tractors and cars, but the core group began by reading the Bible on their own (something frowned on in the old order) and finding truths that they were never taught. They have found joy and peace in trusting Christ, but the old order folks believe it is prideful to feel sure of salvation.
Nellie is caught in the middle. Many in her family have become believers, and she can’t deny the changes in them. But her beau, Caleb, is very much Old Order and his father one of its strictest and most stubborn members. Caleb’s father has forbidden him to see Nellie, but they still manage to find ways to be together while hoping Nellie’s continuing to go to the Old Order church will convince Caleb’s father of her stand.
In one of the subplots, Nellie’s friend Rosanna, who has not been able to have children, has been given the gift of twins by another cousin, Kate, who already has several children. Yet it is obvious that Kate is having trouble letting go, and on top of that, the two women find themselves on opposite sides of the growing rift in the church.
In another subplot, Nellie’s sister Rhoda’s life shows that though every outward vestige of “the world” is removed from the life, worldliness is a matter of the heart.
I always enjoy Beverly Lewis. Her Amish grandmother’s influence and much research make these stories real, and it is easy to love these gentle, hardworking people and to long for their eyes to be opened to the truth of the gospel. Lewis also weaves many truths of life, character, Christianity, and family within her stories.