The Amish Why Philly restrooms are hazardous to them, manufacturers shouldn't toy with them, and one woman left them.
By Jo-Ann Greene, Books Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
The Great Recession of 2008 has caught up with the Amish. Wanda E. Brunstetter's new book tells of a young Amish man's job loss and his need to learn a new trade.
"Goodbye to Yesterday," released last month, is Book 1 in Brunstetter's first serial novel, "The Discovery: A Lancaster County Saga." The first paperback is small and thin, only about 120 pages, and comes with the recessionary price of $6.99.
It's the story of Luke Stoltzfus, of Bird-in-Hand, a woodworker recently laid off from his job at a furniture store. He and newlywed wife Meredith are feeling the pinch when his retiring uncle offers to teach him headstone engraving. Luke must travel to Indiana to learn the trade from Amos, who'll sell him his equipment so Luke can start his own business on his return home.
(Meredith, who is expecting their first child but hasn't told Luke yet, has her misgivings.)
Luke hires a car to go to Norristown, then takes a bus to Philadelphia on his way to South Bend, Ind., by way of Pittsburgh. (Given the state of public transportation here, maybe Luke really does have to head east to head west.)
If Luke had seen "Witness," he might have been wary of the Philadelphia bus station and its restroom in particular. Like the Philadelphia train station restroom in that movie, this is the scene of terrible trouble.
Readers learn what happens to the Luke in Book 2, "The Silence of Winter," due out this month. Four more books -- "The Hope of Spring," "The Pieces of Summer," "A Revelation in Autumn" and "A Vow for Always" -- will be released monthly to complete the six-book series in July.
"It was a very exciting way to write," Brunstetter said in a press release. "Each book leaves the reader with a cliffhanger."
nBrunstetter, a Washington state resident, was producing Amish fiction before a lot of other authors, such as New Yorker Laura Bradford, jumped on the buggy.
Bradford will attend a launch party for the second book in her Amish mystery series set in Lancaster County. It's 6-8 p.m. Friday at Aaron's Books, 35 E. Main St., Lititz, which identifies her as "our top-selling mystery author of 2012."
"Assaulted Pretzel" follows 2012's "Hearse and Buggy." Both are set in fictional Heavenly (Paradise?), Pa., where Claire Weatherly runs an Amish gift shop and solves crimes with the help of shunned ex-Amish cop Jakob Fisher.
This time, a toy manufacturer comes to Heavenly, supposedly to employ Amish craftsmen to make a new line of toys. But when it's learned he's taking their designs but not hiring them, he ends up dead.
"No one wants to believe anyone from the Amish community could commit such an act, but as Claire and Detective Fisher have learned, no one is above sin -- or suspicion," as the book says.
The launch party is free to the public. Books purchased at Aaron's Books may be presented for signing there. Bradford's paperbacks are priced at $7.99 each.
nSaloma Miller Furlong has written about the Amish men and women in her family and the Ohio community she left decades ago.
The author of the 2011 memoir "Why I Left the Amish" returns to the county to speak at 6 p.m. March 13 at Milanof Schock Library, Mount Joy. Cost for the program is $5. Her 190-page paperback, published by Michigan State University Press, sells for $19.95.
"My childhood was not the idyllic one people think of when they imagine the Amish life," the Massachusetts resident writes on her website, noting she had a mentally ill father and an abusive older brother.
Furlong, who appeared on the PBS "American Experience" program on the Amish and interned with Anabaptist scholar Donald Kraybill at Elizabethtown College, is at work on a sequel to her memoir, titled "Wearing Amish."n