One of the most interesting aspects of World War II for me is how the war thrust people together from different walks of life. Cultures collide in Promise to Cherish by Elizabeth Byler Younts. Eli Brenneman is Amish. As a conscientious objector, he’s assigned to work as an aide in a mental hospital where he encounters patients, nurses, and physicians who disapprove of the “COs,” who appear to be dodging combat. Eli is appalled at the poor conditions in the hospital and finds an ally in nurse Christine Freeman.
After a horrible encounter with old crush Jack Delano, Christine becomes pregnant – which means the loss of her job and the disapproval of her family. Eli brings Christine home to his Amish community, where she hopes to have the baby and give the child up for adoption. As Eli and Christine fall for each other, new complications arise. How could she become Amish? But how could Eli leave the community he’s finally embraced?
Promise to Cherish highlights little-known aspects of World War II on the home front – the work of the conscientious objectors and the state of psychiatric care. Elizabeth Byler Younts doesn’t shy away from unpleasant truths, nor does she try to infuse modern sensibilities into the past – both of which are refreshing and honest. Eli and Christine are complex and interesting characters facing difficult decisions about who they are, their relationship to God, and their status in their communities. An insightful novel, and not to be missed!