I’ve known for several years that
Beverly Lewis was the queen of Christian fiction of the Amish
persuasion. One of the secretaries at an office I worked at during my
freshman year of college would often sneak Lewis’s books in and read
them whenever there was a lull (or she thought the boss wasn’t
looking). She loaned me one, which I read and enjoyed, but since my
taste usually runs a little edgier, I never read any others by Beverly
Until The Redemption
of Sarah Cain.
When I heard one of Beverly
Lewis’s books was being made into a movie, I was impressed. Really, you
have to be a phenomenal writer to have Hollywood come knocking on your
In The Redemption of
Sarah Cain, Sarah has built a great life for herself in
Portland, Oregon. A successful agent with a profitable real estate
firm, she has everything money can buy—except her family and peace with
her past. Sarah is convinced that she can ignore all of that until she
receives a phone call from her sister Ivy’s lawyer.
Lyddie Cottrell is a normal
teenager—normal for an Amish teenager, anyway. At seventeen, she is the
oldest of the Cottrell children, with four siblings: Caleb, Anna Mae,
Josiah, and Hannah. She does her chores, takes care of the younger
children, and is courted by her sweetheart, Levi. Life became
complicated when her father died three years earlier, but at least Mama
has been there to keep the family together. But then Mama dies, and the
children must depend on the kindness of an almost-unknown relative to
care for them.
Will Sarah give up her lucrative
career on the West Coast to move to Amish country to take care of her
nieces and nephews? Will she take them away from their home? Or will
she just abandon them to the foster system, to be split up among
non-Amish families? And how will she cope with facing the painful
situations in her past while she decides about the children’s future?
Beverly Lewis paints a vivid
picture of the Amish world—from the livestock in the barn to the early
morning clothes-washing parties to the quilting bees. Not only does she
give us a clear picture of the physical world, but she shows the hearts
of the Amish. We see the deep faith in Jesus Christ, abiding love for
one another, and the fierce loyalty among the Plain People.
The book was a pleasure to read.
I fell in love with Lyddie Cottrell from page one. She is the
dedicated, sensitive, loving, and hard-working daughter that any mother
would love, not to mention a wonderful older sister. She isn’t perfect,
but when she makes mistakes, she humbly receives the correction of the
Lord and asks for forgiveness. Some days I wish I were as good a woman
and as strong a Christian as this teenage girl. And though she might
seem unrealistic, when you picture her as the orphaned, oldest child of
devout Amish upbringing, she really doesn’t seem so unrealistic after
always, I was eager to see how director and producer Michael Landon Jr.
would translate this beautiful setting and the rich
screen. In those two areas, I was not at all disappointed. The
Lancaster County landscapes were breathtaking, and he could not have
asked for better casting. Although the principle characters were played
by actors who aren’t very widely known, they all handled their
characters remarkably. I was especially impressed with Abigail Mason’s
portrayal of Lyddie. Overall, the movie certainly has the quality that
viewers have come to expect from Michael Landon Jr.
If you are seeking a family
friendly movie to show on family night, this is a good choice. It has
no violence, no foul language, no sensuality, and no other
objectionable content. The theme of is definitely redemptive. But if
you’re seeking a movie with an openly evangelistic message, you will be
When I picked up the DVD, the
first thing I noticed was the title change from The
Redemption of Sarah Cain to Saving Sarah Cain.
To me, that implied that there might be an evangelistic overtone;
however, that is not the case. There is no mention of Jesus Christ and
any changes that happen in the lives of the characters are left
unexplained. A non-Christian would probably attribute any character
changes purely to chance or circumstance. At the end of the movie, I
could not see any clear reasoning for the title change.
Additionally, I was disappointed
in the movie because I purchased it expecting to see the film version
of the novel. That didn’t happen. Whereas Beverly Lewis had woven her
tale in Lancaster County, screenwriters Brian Bird (who also
coproduced) and Cindy Kelley took the majority of the story to Sarah
Cain’s home of Portland, Oregon. Although the character names and some
of the major circumstances remained the same, the two were so
completely different, that I felt cheated by the movie. I wanted to see
the children’s one-room schoolhouse and go to the quilting parties with
Lyddie and Sarah. Instead, I saw cityscapes in Portland that were never
in the novel.
This month, I am choosing the
bookstore over the box office. Beverly Lewis’s version is just too
wonderful to miss. It is a must-read for any Christian woman—girls too.
If you do choose the movie version, please be aware that it is a good
movie. It just isn’t a good adaptation of the novel, and it isn’t a
movie that you will want to show to share the message of salvation
through Jesus Christ.