The Outcast by Jolina Petersheim

I’ve been a bit perplexed this year.  Usually by the time we hit late summer, I would have read several novels during the course of the year that would have already made my favorite reads of the year list.  So far there haven’t been too many books that have overly wowed me.  Luckily, that changed late last week when I read The Outcast by debut novelist Jolina Petersheim.

outcastThis is a modern retelling of The Scarlet Letter.  Now, now… don’t close out of this post with a groan and horrendous flashbacks to high school English when you were forced to read the classic Nathaniel Hawthorne novel.  I admit that I did that a bit when my sales rep presented the book to me.  But the more I looked into the novel, the more I knew this was one I would love.

Rachel Stoltzfus refuses to repent to her Old Order Mennonite church by providing the name of the person who was part of her sin.  She is quickly finding how hard it is going to be to live in this community as an unmarried young mother.  Even members of her own family are turning their back to her and her son Eli.

Simply put, this is a beautiful story that at times can be gut wrenching to see a new mother struggle to find her place with her family, community, and the outside world.  That outside world quickly rushes in when Rachel chooses to leave and is forced to make difficult decisions in regards to Eli.

Do you have to be a fan of Amish or Mennonite novels to enjoy The Outcast?  Definitely not.  If you appreciate a well written story with a variety of characters that are expertly developed, then you should pick up a copy of this book.  I can predict that Jolina will see great success with this first novel and I’m looking forward to seeing what else she has in store for the scores of new readers she will acquire with its debut.

Jolina joined us on the blog a few weeks ago.  Be sure to check out her guest post to get to know her a bit more!


  • Jolina Petersheim

    I am so glad the story touched you, Rachel. Thank you for sharing! It means a great deal.


    • Rachel McRae

      It was easy to love! Everyone… go forth and buy it for yourself!