Over the course of her book, Valerie Weaver-Zercher guides us through an analysis of the constituents of the increasingly popular Amish-fiction genre. In particular, her chapters explore the content of stories that fall within the genre, the general writing style employed by authors of Amish fiction, the common ways that Amish fiction functions for readers, and a few concerns with regards to the genre that Weaver-Zercher finds worthy of additional attention. In discussing the content of Amish fiction, Weaver-Zercher not only presents common attributes of the main characters (especially the protagonist) but also establishes major themes in the story settings themselves. These settings and themes are effectively employed by the particular style of writing that is used in Amish fiction precisely because the emphasis in this genre is on clear communication and the use of text as a mechanism for transporting the reader—rather than emphasizing the literary nature of the book in ways that distract from the story content. In addition to a discussion of the content and structure of Amish fiction, Weaver-Zercher also uses conversations with Amish fiction readers and authors to establish the ways that Amish inspirational fiction functions in the lives of readers. This function includes not only the reasons that people choose to read Amish fiction, but also the ways that Amish fictions affects readers’ lives in more profound ways. The final topic that Weaver-Zercher addresses in her book are those criticisms and concerns that the genre of Amish fiction—as a subgenre of inspirational fiction—raises; these concerns are used to end the book because they provide opening questions and issues for future research and conversations about Amish fiction, inspirational fiction, and literary representation more broadly. [First paragraph-Stork]
Keiser’s book “Pennsylvania German in the American Midwest” combines data from a decade of field work in order to present a detailed account of the origin and distribution of several key features distinguishing Pennsylvania German spoken in Pennsylvania (PPG) from that spoken in the American Midwest (MPG) and the internal and contact induced changes that resulted in their divergence. He compares the Amish communities of Lancaster County and Montgomery / Bucks Counties in the East and Holmes County, Ohio; Kalona, Iowa; and Grant County, Wisconsin, in the Midwest. His work is grounded in ethnography as well as quantitative methods of data collection and analysis. [First paragraph-Downing]
Stork, Sarah Jasmine. 2014. "Review of: Weaver-Zercher, Valerie. 2013. Thrill of the Chaste: The Allure of Amish Romance Novels. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press." Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 2(1):155-59.
Downing, Lara. 2014. "Review of: Keiser, Steven H. 2012. Pennsylvania German in the American Midwest. Durham, NC: Duke University Press." Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 2(1):159-64.