Not going to lie, I totally started reading this book because with a name like A Forbidden Rumspringa, I thought it’d be hilariously over the top and I figured I’d be able to laugh about it with bookish friends later. Andrews managed to take a silly sounding premise and turn it into a well-written romance that takes its characters and their problems seriously.
The story takes place in a small Amish community in northern Minnesota called Zebulon. Apparently there’s a lot of variation within Amish communities; some are more liberal and allow their members more freedom while others are very strict and traditional. Zebulon is one of the strictest groups. Their youngies (young adults) aren’t allowed to have rumspringas and many of the teenagers have to resort to rebelling in quieter ways. Isaac Byler at 18 is on the cusp of manhood. He’s expected to start dating, become a member of the church, and build a financial foundation for his future family. He’s always loved wood *giggles* so his parents arrange for him to apprentice with the town’s young carpenter, David. Unfortunately, David has always made Isaac a little uncomfortable. There’s a hidden attraction there and Isaac subconsciously knows that working in such close quarters with David is dangerous.
The plot was great and the writing pretty good. I think it’s self-published, but if so, it isn’t obvious. Clearly Andrews put a lot of thought into crafting believable characters within the Amish community. I will say that the sex scenes are pretty graphic. That’s not a judgement, but I like my romances a little less descriptive. A Forbidden Rumspringa is definitely pushing the boundaries of romance and erotica. The novel had a satisfying ending, but I’m glad there’s a sequel because I want to know what happens to these characters in the future and how they reconcile their religion with their sexuality.