Here we go again – it’s another Wanda Brunstetter review.
The book is called, “The Healing Jar.” The leading character is Lenore, who is as inspiring as a plastic ribbon tied to an electric pole. Get ready for Lenore.
The book just kind of…starts and apparently it must be the third book in a series. Lenore is living with her grossmammi and grossdawdi and she is oddly obsessed with them. In fact, I think she was maybe a little bit in love with Grandpa. It was bizarre.
Jesse, an Amish widower (of course) has moved to the area with his ADORABLE CHILD, Cindy. Cindy. Lenore is immediately taken by how CUTE Cindy is and she wishes she could be Cindy’s mamm. Lenore is mopey through the whole book because she is satisfied she will never marry. And really, who would have her? She’s 1. Annoying. 2. Boring. 3. Obsessed with her grandpa. Those are her only personality traits.
So Grandpa had a stroke, I’m guessing in the preceding book, and he is wheelchair-bound. He refuses to go to church because he is embarrassed by the wheelchair. Grandma (Mary Ruth), Sara, Michelle (who pretended to be Sara when she first arrived in Strasburg, they mention casually a couple times), and Lenore literally won’t stop babying Grandpa. So it’s no wonder he shows no signs of improving.
One day, Lenore goes out to the barn and she finds a jar with slips of paper in it. On the slips are written the most oft-repeated Bible verses you can imagine, but she is soooo inspired by the verses.
Back to Jesse. The ADORABLE Cindy is being babysat by his relative, Vera. But all the men in Vera’s life continually tell her she’s too old to take care of a baby because she’s – get ready for it – SIXTY-NINE. I’m sorry. What? Why can’t she take care of the baby? It’s not as if she has to watch it 24/7. The kid isn’t mobile yet. There shouldn’t be a problem.
Jesse meets Mary Ruth and Lenore at church and pawns Cindy off on them. Lenore worries that Cindy will interrupt Grandpa’s peace and quiet. However, Cindy charms the kapps off of them and inserts her little brazen self into their “family.”
Then, suddenly it’s time for Lenore to go back to school, because apparently she is a teacher. Mary Ruth says it’s no problem, she’ll keep watching Cindy. Lenore flips out. How could her Grandma think she is able-bodied enough to take care of Cindy. I started to question why Wanda thinks her characters become decrepit after age 40.
It’s not very clear why, but Jesse asks Lenore to court him. He comes to her family Thanksgiving and there is an awkward scene where he has a snowball fight and builds a snowman with her adult bruder. Lenore comes out the door and falls on her butt on some ice. Jesse is wracked with guilt, because he had seen that ice but hadn’t cleaned it up. The family flies off the handle. “Is my daughter injured?” screams her mother. “Is my sister okay?” her brother asks two lines later. It’s great to have some clarity on the relationships here.
They beg her to go to the hospital for x-rays. It seems like an overreaction to me, but it’s nothing compared to what happens next. Get this – Lenore takes not one day, but approximately two weeks off of teaching to lay in bed.
Next, Grandpa dies! But if you thought we wouldn’t have to hear approximately him anymore, you’re wrong. We’ll have to hear approximately him even more because everyone is wrecked by him dying. It was at this point I started skipping the portions about Sara and Michelle, because it was simply too much.
Lenore and Jesse get engaged but about two hours later, Jesse wonders what the heck he’s done and he takes Lenore to an Amish buffet to tell her it will be a loveless marriage of convenience, whether she’s still game. Lenore actually shows some personality and tells him to heck off, she won’t be trapped in his yucky loveless marriage plan.
Grandma Mary Ruth wonders how she’s going to receive Lenore and Jesse back together and I made wild, frustrated motions with my hands because it’s none of her trade! And Jesse is approximately as charming as an unbuttered bagel!
Lenore goes out for a self-pity lunch with Sara. Suddenly, a beardless Amish guy named Mark comes to their table and reminds Lenore that they used to go to school together. As a side note, it’s actually a pretty clever move to make men stay clean-shaven til marriage, it would be so easy to see provided a guy was taken or not. After all, not every married man wears a wedding ring, though he should.
Mark begins to court Lenore, and I didn’t hate him. He was at least a bit more fun than Jesse “Two by Four” Smucker. However, Mark makes two fatal mistakes that lead Lenore to both hate his guts and dump him. First, he has the audacity to plan fun dates. Second, he doesn’t even bother to ask if he can do any work for Grandma Mary Ruth. Wow! What a loser!! What an outright corn shuck of a man!
The fun date that broke Lenore was this: he left a message and said he had procured tickets to Hershey Park for the two of them. Lenore’s temper becomes black and she curses up a storm. “That bleeping bleeper Mark Lapp got bleeping tickets for bleeping Hershey Park where I threw up my bleeping lunch when I was a bleeping twelve year old. Because of this, I’ve bleeping vowed to never go back to that bleeping place.”
She tells Mark it’s bleeping over between them and he responds with the greatest breakup comeback I’ve ever heard: “Fine then, I’ll find someone else who will appreciate me for the fun-loving guy I truly am.” Dang correct, Mark.
The book is wrapped up quickly from here, which isn’t tough to do when you’re working with characters as uninteresting as Lenore and Jesse. Lenore falls into a dry well. Jesse gets her out and accompanies her to the hospital. He realizes he loves her. I don’t buy it. He re-proposes, and they get married in the epilogue.
Whatever, Lenore just wanted to be the Adorable Cindy’s mom, I don’t think she cared too much about Jesse. Also, the whole “jar” subplot irked me and was dull (person) as could be. Another jar was found buried in the garden and it revealed who Sara’s biological father was. I couldn’t care less.