Author: Bob Hostetler/
Genre: Historical Fiction/Amish
Jakob Hochstetler and his family came to America in 1738, seeking sanctuary from religious persecution in Europe and the freedom to live and worship according to their Anabaptist beliefs. Along with other members of their church, they settled in the Northkill Amish Mennonite community on the Pennsylvania frontier between civilization and Indian country. Eighteen years later, while the French and Indian War raged, their home was attacked by a party of Delaware and Shawnee warriors. Facing certain death with his wife and children, Jakob made a wrenching choice that would tear apart his family and change their lives forever.
Northkill is closely based on an inspiring true story well-known among the Amish and Mennonites and documented in many publications and contemporary accounts preserved in the Pennsylvania State Archives and in private collections.
Reviewer: Leona G. (Review written by Jen G, Leona’s mom)
Romance Content: This book contains scenes containing Amish courtship scenarios as often portrayed in Amish fiction books. These include attraction between teenage boys and girls, holding hands, and one kiss. There is also a somewhat veiled discussion on the marital relationship.
Recommended age range: I personally do not feel that this book is appropriate for a teenager that has committed to a Biblical courtship. Also, some of the Indian scenes are fairly graphic for young people to be exposed to.
This book is a well-written fictional account taken from a historical event in Pennsylvania during the French and Indian War. It follows the lives of one Amish family as they struggle to survive in that wild land surrounded by Indians.
The central theme of the book is the father’s conviction of nonresistance and how that affects the entire family. The author does a great job of showing different family member’s perspective; the reader is certainly drawn into the story, feeling what the characters feel. The climax of the story is centered around an Indian raid, which is described very realistically and somewhat violently.
Overall, this book is interesting and informative, showing the reader who comes from a non-Amish background a different perspective of pacifist views. The authors also give us insight into the religious beliefs of the main character, Jakob Hochstetler, in many different sections. One example of this is when the book says, “All his adult life, he had struggled… to earn God’s favor and pardon by doing what was right.”
My main reservations on this book that lowered the rating are the small amount of romance and the level of detail in the Indian raid as described above.
Reviewer: Kelly Potts
Such horrors these original Pennsylvania Amish went through and yet kept their faith and their belief not to exact revenge. This is a heart wrenching story of family, community, strength of character, atrocious loss and centered in it all is God. The authors did not allow the reader to linger on the loss and grieve for Anna and the children, just as Jakob was not. The reader was dragged away with Jakob, Joseph and Christian wondering the same, “why would God allow this”. The family left behind as well as those dragged away by the natives, in my mind, miraculously look back to God’s plan and will. Such a heart wrenching ending that I simply must know how Jakob’s family saga ends.
Reviewer: Laura J. Davis
I was mesmerized by this story of Jakob Hochstetler and his family who came to America in 1738 to escape religious persecution. They settle in the Northkill Amish/Mennonite community and build lives for themselves. The authors begin this story by letting the reader know beforehand what was going to happen. I knew because of the description of the book what to expect, but the details at the beginning threw me as I prefer not to know everything that is going to happen before I begin reading a book. That said, Northkill included so many detailed and surprising scenes that the "spoilers" at the front of the book did not ruin it in any way.
The writing was excellent, and I was immediately drawn into the story. Word of warning, the attack by the Indians, when it comes, may be a bit too much for some readers. While I don't condone violence in most books, this is a true story and was necessary to depict the horror of what happened to this family, who by the way are the ancestors of the authors.
I was a little confused in some parts because many of the characters had the same names and I was often left wondering who was who, but I suppose when you are writing a true story you can't exactly change the names of the characters. And at the end of the book, the authors once again included spoilers for the next one. I think it would have been better to add the first chapter of the next book, rather than a detailed account of what will happen.
However, I am so invested in this series that I don't care! I am going to purchase the second book because even though the author's told me what is going to happen next, I still want to read about it. That's how good this book is!
The one thing about Northkill that really spoke to me was Jakob's faith that God would provide for them and his belief in living the Scriptures he holds so dear. To love his enemies even after seeing his children and wife murdered most brutally is not something most people would even attempt to do. In fact, in the story his son, Joseph, struggles with this, but Jakob tries desperately to put it into practice. I am anxious to see how this all plays out in book two.
If you like historical fiction, you will most definitely want to pick up this book!