Author Wanda E. Brunstetter has become one of my favorite writers. I appreciate that her books are clean, without profanity and sexual immorality, and that the characters are more fully developed. That’s why I wanted to read her newest book Letters of Trust.
This book is quite different from any other story I’ve read by this author. The subject is more difficult and a bit darker. When I think of the Amish community, I don’t think of alcoholism. Wanda explained that she had Amish readers request that she write a story that deals with alcoholism. Sadly, alcohol abuse has impacted their communities as well. The story also had a personal touch because alcoholism has touched Wanda’s life though a family member.
Letters of Trust tells the story about newlyweds Vic and Eleanor Lapp who are moving to Vic’s home state of Pennsylvania where his family lives. Other than Vic and his family, Eleanor had no family or friends there. Eleanor loves Vic and wants to support his decision to move back home. Like any newlywed couple the first year of marriage can be a challenge. Eleanor keeps in touch with family and friends through letters.
Vic is employed by an English man and is surrounded by English workers as well. Vic finds himself under regular pressure by a coworker to drink alcohol. He’s able to resist until a crisis breaks down his resolve to not drink alcohol. Alcohol had been an issue in his youth, before he had committed himself to the Amish community and church. Now Vic chooses not to resist the draw of alcohol.
Like every other sin, alcoholism and drinking to excess, doesn’t just impact the one who is drinking. Vic’s drowning his sorrow impacted his marriage, his family, his job, and most importantly his faith.
Will Eleanor find support and wise counsel from her dear friend and family? Will she have the wherewithal to remain in her marriage and help her husband? Will she be strong enough to acknowledge the truth, get wise counsel, and the help and support she needs? What will it take to wake Vic up to the truth that alcohol is destroying his life and his marriage? Will he realize it before it’s too late?
Something I would like to have seen, especially since faith is an integral part of the story and character’s lives, is to see alcoholism in light of the truth of Scripture. Secular society calls alcoholism a disease, but a Christian believer knows it is a sin. There may be some beneficial secular programs to help the alcoholic and their family. But for a Christian believer, first and foremost, we need to recognize our sin and repent. Like all sin, God has provide a way for us to be forgiven through Christ Jesus. If this had been a secular story, I would not have had that expectation.
Something that flowed from the aspect of faith and seeing a character caught up in sin, was Vic a true Christian? I don’t have good understanding of the Amish faith. But I wondered if there is some measure of legalism? Is a person considered a true believer as long as he complies with the rules of the Amish community? What is a warning sign that a person’s outward confession is not genuine? Would an Amish Christian be concerned about their witness and testimony to an unbelieving coworker?
I would like to have seen the faith aspect of alcoholism dealt with, in addition to the practical steps recommended by the secular world. I liked that Vic’s parents had a realistic understanding of their son and didn’t try to make excuses for his choices and behavior.
If you like Wanda E. Brunstetter’s writing, or have an interest in the topic of alcoholism, you may want to read Letters of Trust. This was a hard book to read because of the subject matter and the fact that too many lives are impacted by alcoholism. I appreciate that the author tackled this painful topic.
Letters of Trust will be published March 1, 2023.
I would like to thank Barbour Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read a complementary copy of Letters of Trust by Wanda E. Brunstetter. I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.