“I wish there was something I could do,” Cousin Verena said, her voice cracking.
“But what?” Susie whispered, wiping her eyes. “The boy I’ve always loved thinks of me as his sister . . . and always has.”

Susie Mast’s Amish life in Lancaster County has been shaped by events beyond her control, with the tragic deaths of her Dat and close-in-age brother casting long shadows. Now twenty-two, Susie remains unmarried despite her longtime affection for friend Obie Yoder.

Unfortunately, her concerns are soon multiplied due to her mother’s worsening health and her younger sister’s urgent desire for answers about her adoption. Once again, Susie faces the possibility of loss. Will long-held family secrets and missed opportunities dim Susie’s hopes for the future? Or is what seems like the end only the beginning?

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What Inspired the Story
Two years ago, while visiting Lancaster County, there was a moment of reflection when I realized that a placid lake surrounded by many large willows had more than captured my attention, as had a bundle of flowers along the roadside, and even an attractive wall hanging I’d seen in my Amish friends’ home (near fictitious Hickory Hollow). These were the original images that sprang to life in my heart for this novel, The Beginning, while I was researching aspects of a completely different book. And because those early sparks lingered long in my memory, I knew they were meant to be knitted together into a heartwarming story that would lift readers’ hearts and offer a genuine glimpse into a young Amish woman’s life-journey through the challenges of enormous loss.

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