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Heavy Burdens: Sarah Price’s “An Empty Cup”

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Title: Empty Cup

Author: Sarah Price

Publisher: Waterfall Press

Copyright: April 14, 2015

ISBN-10: 1477824855

Format: E-Book, 253 Pages, Free for KindleUnlimited, $7.51 [Amazon Paperback], $3.99 [Kindle], $7.34 [Audible], $7.51 [Barnes & Noble Paperback], $9.95 [iBooks Audiobook]

Summary:

Amish woman Rosanna Zook lost her self-confidence within the confines of a loveless and abusive marriage. In the years spent quietly dealing with her burdens and dutifully caring for others, she forgot her sense of self and ability to feel. But after her first husband’s untimely death, she gets a second chance with Reuben Troyer, a godly man who welcomes Rosanna and her two children into his life.

Despite the love and respect she finds in her new marriage, Rosanna soon learns that juggling the demands of her family and church community is more than she can handle. When Rosanna becomes ill, she is forced to confront a hard truth: one empty cup cannot fill another. For a woman who has spent her life giving, will Rosanna finally be able to let go and receive?

Review:

Rosanna Zook is a survivor. For years she has been married to a horrid and abusive husband, Timothy Zook. It seems like Rosanna cannot do anything right and, to make matters worse, Timothy is indolent and he is far from being what a proper Amish man is expected to be. They have two children, Aaron and Cate. Cate, who is their younger child, has always been Timothy’s least favorite child and he has gone out of his way to ignore her. Rosanna is the epitome of a battered wife, having a massive amount of verbal abuse and insults directed towards her. To make matters worse, Timothy seems to enjoy egging on their Englischer or “non-Amish” neighbors, Gloria and Camille who often fight back. For Rosanna, it seems like life just can’t get worse.

After years have passed, Rosanna is now remarried to a good and godly man by the name of Reuben Troyer. Being the broken (but strong) creature that she is, Rosanna never expected to fall in love again let alone open her heart to another man. It seems like Reuben is the complete and total opposite of Timothy, treating Cate and Aaron as lovingly as he possibly can. As is the way of Amish women, Rosanna spends her days at home, cleaning, cooking, and sometimes gardening. Meanwhile, Reuben owns a harness shop where he works tirelessly to provide Amish as well as Englische (non-Amish) with harnesses and saddles. Aaron, who is now more grown up, performs all of the external duties at the farm and keeps it going. Cate helps her mother take care of the house.

Rosanna has found love with Reuben who respects her in a way that Timothy never did. Even though she has a second chance at life, she is still haunted by the past and by all the nastiness she faced at her first husband’s hands. When Reuben hires a young woman from a New York Amish community by the name of Nan, things go downhill for Rosanna. Nan, who is an eccentric and pushy young woman, is working for Reuben in order to help his business run more efficiently. Reuben plans to take more time off and to spend more time with Rosanna. After Nan arrives, it’s almost as if Reuben becomes another man. He works long hours and it’s almost as if he ignores Rosanna completely. Cate deserts her mother to go work in Reuben’s shop and leaves poor Rosanna with all of that work to do.

From the outset, Rosanna doesn’t like Nan at all. There is something about Nan that is rude and uncouth. Nan is living in Reuben’s old home. Since their marriage, he agreed to move to Rosanna’s farm that she originally shared with Timothy. Rosanna tries her best to be a good Christian and offers to help Nan clean the place. However, when she goes over to help the new arrival, Nan is nowhere to be found. Instead of helping Rosanna, Nan comes up with some excuse and goes back to the store, leaving Rosanna to clean the house alone. Quietly observing Nan (while trying her best not to judge her), Rosanna begins to have her suspicions. Another problem that Rosanna is are Gloria and her daughter Camille. They are possibly two of the most annoying people in the world. Rosanna’s dog has a habit of wandering into their yard and Gloria begins to kick up a big fuss about it. She goes out of her way to make Rosanna’s life miserable. Even when Rosanna does her best to be kind to the miserly chain-smoking crone, Gloria just won’t have it. She constantly messes up Rosanna’s garden.

With all of the stresses that Rosanna is facing, she almost has a mental breakdown. Will Rosanna ever have the courage to speak up? Will she dare to speak her mind?

Sarah Price’s An Empty Cup is definitely not your usual Amish-centered fiction. This wasn’t some bright sparking story about a young Amish lass who falls in love with a strapping young man. Far from it. This is a story of resilience and strength. This is a story about suffering and the toll abuse can take on someone as loving and kind as Rosanna Zook. I liked this story in the fact that there was a dark element to it. There was mystery in regards to the different characters and even some unforeseen twists. There were a couple times when I wondered where the story was going as there didn’t seem a clear path. The characters were very well written. I found Gloria, Camille, and Nan insufferable. Each of them was insufferable in their own way. Gloria and Camille were just plain nasty. Nan was just a know-it-all.

While reading this, I thought to myself, “Why doesn’t she just speak up?” This was a really fun read and I enjoyed it immensely. It gave some insight into what it is like to be an Amish woman and the struggles that women in such a community face. If there was a moral to this story, I think it would be: Don’t be afraid to speak up. Two can shoulder the burden better than one.

Rating:

2Dramatis Personae:

Rosanna Zook: An Amish widow who marries Reuben Troyer, a good man. She is the mother of Cate and Aaron.

Timothy Zook: The late husband of Rosanna who was abusive and a drunk. He chides Rosanna constantly and prefers his son over his daughter.

Reuben Troyer: The second husband of Rosanna who is a kindly man who owns a store. He treats Cate and Aaron lovingly.

Cate Zook: The daughter of Rosanna and Timothy Zook. She lives with her mother and stepfather, Reuben Troyer. She is the younger of the two children.

Aaron Zook: The son of Rosanna and Timothy Zook. He lives with his mother and stepfather, Reuben Troyer. His biological father favored him throughout his childhood. He is the older of the two children.

Nan: A new young arrival from the New York Amish community who agrees to help Reuben Troyer with his store. She pushes Reuben to do some marketing and is power hungry. She and Rosanna do not get along.

Gloria and Camille: The troublesome neighbors of Rosanna and Reuben who make their lives difficult.

Join us next time as we explore Janine Mendenhall’s Starving Hearts.


Featured Image: Gossips by Henry John Yeend King.

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