by Karen Ann Hopkins
Published by Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: April 30, 2013
Source: ARC provided by author and Kismet Book Tours
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I left everything I knew behind.
But it was worth it. He was worth it.
No one thought an ordinary girl like me would last two minutes living with the Amish, not even me. There are a lot more rules and a lot less freedom, and I miss my family and the life I once had. Worst of all, Noah and I aren't even allowed to see each other. Not until I've proven myself.
If I can find a way to make it work, we'll be NOAH & ROSE
But not everybody believes this is where I belong.
Like with my review of Temptation, the first book of this series, I find it difficult to share my thoughts about Belonging without revealing too much. So this is my warning: This review gets a little spoilery - so read at your own risk.
Rose and Noah, the star-crossed lovers of Temptation, try to make their love work in Belonging.
As much as I love reading about the romance in Temptation and now in Belonging, I am still conflicted with the idea of Rose and Noah being right for each other. There are times I can believe that they have an overwhelming, real love but I continue to question if it is the constant separation that feeds their need to be together. Is it just the longing or is it forever love? In Temptation, Rose and Noah were forbidden to love one another because Noah was Amish and Rose was not. In Belonging, Noah and Rose are still kept from being together and openly showing love and affection, because Rose must prove to everyone that she wants to give up her ways and assimilate into the Amish community.
In Belonging, I got to know Rose a lot better. This probably had a lot to do with her introduction into the Amish community and the new friends that she made there. I enjoyed seeing Rose in this new role - friend and confidant. She’s strong-willed and protective of her friends. She’s more than just the girl who loves Noah.
Her relationships with her siblings was key to this story too. She was giving up more than just the comforts of modern life. By choosing to become Amish, she was leaving her family behind.
The introduction of Sam’s point of view was a nice surprise. Temptation was told in Rose and Noah’s alternating POVs and adding this new perspective in Belonging was a great contribution to the story. Getting outside of the minds of the main characters is refreshing because they can be pretty intense. Plus Sam is an entertaining character to read. He is completely full of himself and does fill the role of over-bearing, know-it-all older brother. Their interactions are some of the more entertaining moments of the book. They push each others buttons, but Rose holds her own.
Rose adapted to her environment to bide her time but it’s obvious that she never completely accepted what she was doing. She was changing but still playing a role. While reading, I made a note of many passages where Rose acknowledged that she was giving up and giving in just to be with Noah and how she often had to numb her thoughts of the truth of what she was doing because it was easier to pretend she was doing the right thing. One of the most telling conversations was between Rose and Summer, when Rose doesn’t know if she can continue “playing Amish”:
“I don’t know. Sometimes, when I’m with Noah, everything is fine with world. But other times, it’s like waking up in a nightmare . . . The alternative would be to leave Noah, and I’ll never do that,” I said, scooting my chair a little back form the stove to avoid melting.“See, that’s where you and I are different. If I fell in love, I’d give my life for my guy, but not my soul,” she said cryptically.“What are you saying?” The fact that Summer was getting all philosophical had be suddenly on edge.She gazed at me with steady eyes and said, “That if you give up your spirit, who you really are, for a guy, you won’t have much left to love him with.” (pg 273)
THANK YOU SUMMER!
What really gets me going is why Rose has to be the one to give up everything. What Noah loves so much about Rose are her differences from the Amish ways. He loves her joy, her impulsiveness, all of the things that makes her who she is. Why would he want her to change or suppress these things that make her alive just so they can be together? Why can’t Noah be the person who has to make the sacrifices?
Why? Why? Why? I really do understand why. It is easier for Rose to give up her life and her family because her family would eventually accept her choice. If Noah was the one to change, to leave, his would be shunned and never allowed back in his community. His family wouldn’t be as forgiving. He would have nothing.
To say that their love story infuriates me would be melodramatic and it would give the wrong impression of my opinion of Belonging. I love the complexity of the story and the portrait of this life and love and the community that Hopkins has created. Rose and Noah’s story is far from over and knowing the dramatic ending (not spoiling that part here) of Belonging has me aching to read the final book of the series, Forever.
Disclaimer: I received an ARC from the author and am providing this review as part of Kismet Book Tour. I was not compensated in any way other than the book provided. Thoughts and opinions are my own.
About Karen Ann Hopkins
A native of New York State, Karen Ann Hopkins now lives with her family on a farm in northern Kentucky, where her neighbors in all directions are members of a strict Amish community. Her unique perspective became the inspiration for the story of star-crossed lovers Rose and Noah. When she’s not homeschooling her kids, giving riding lessons or tending to a menagerie of horses, goats, peacocks, chickens, ducks, rabbits, dogs and cats, she is dreaming up her next romantic novel.
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