Item description for I Hear The Reaper's Song by Sara Stambaugh...
Overview This critically acclaimed first novel, now in paperback, portrays tragedy and crisis in a small Pennsylvania community in 1896. Sara Stambaugh captures the point of view, language, and feelings of a 15-year-old Mennonite boy in the whirlpool of his first encounter with death. Depicts a turning point in individual lives and in the life of a community.
Set in a small Mennonite community in Pennsylvania in 1896, this novel depicts the reaction of the "plain people" to various modern encroachments. Publishers Weekly called it, "A beautifully told lesson for the contemporary reader in how any community adapts to a changing world." Portrays tragedy and crisis in a small Pennsylvania community in 1896 from the point of view of a 15-year-old Mennonite boy in the whirlpool of his first encounter with death. In the spring of 1896, Silas Hershey was 15. He worked hard six days a week alongside his family in their corn and tobacco fields. On Sundays he gossiped with his cousin Sam, eyeing the girls from a corner of the Paradise Mennonite Church yard, and several evenings a week he drove his sister Barbie and cousin Biney to "special meetings" at nearby churches. Then there were the troubled romances of both Barbie and older brother Hen. But social and political change was flooding the country, and in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, the ripples lapped up over the church steps and into the pulpits. The special evening meetings which to Silas and Sam were little more than out-of-the-ordinary social occasions in fact signalled a radical change in Mennonite belief and tradition. All promoted by the "Western preachers," as Silas called them. Events come to a climax one summer Saturday night when Barbie and her young man, Enos Barge, are coming home from a party and a train hits their buggy at a dangerous crossing. The Western preachers capitalize on the incident; neither Barbie nor Enos had yet joined church, and the revivalists point to them as examples of what can happen to those who are not "saved." People convert in flocks. And the Hersheys, to whom Barbie was their light and joy, are left stunned by grief, struggling to keep a shattered family from disintegrating. Sara Stambaugh tells the story with both sympathy and candor. She also succeeds remarkably well in capturing the point of view, language, and feelings of an adolescent Mennonite boy, caught in the whirlpool of a first encounter with death. Her images evoke a time and place so clearly that the reader can almost smell the arbutus and feel the crackle of ice underfoot.
Citations And Professional Reviews I Hear The Reaper's Song by Sara Stambaugh has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
Publishers Weekly - 03/06/1987
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Studio: Good Books
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.1" Width: 5.55" Height: 0.74" Weight: 0.59 lbs.
Release Date Jan 1, 1984
Publisher Good Books
ISBN 0934672415 ISBN13 9780934672412
Availability 0 units.
More About Sara Stambaugh
Sara Stambaugh was born in New Holland, Pennsylvania on December 4, 1936. She received her B.A. from Beaver College, and her M.A. and Ph.D. from Minnesota. From 1969 until 1995, she taught in the English Department at the University of Alberta. Ms. Stambaugh is the author of several works of fiction but is best known for her critical analyses of the works of Isak Dinesen entitled Isak Dineson in America and The Witch and the Goddess in the stories of Isak Dinesen: a Feminist Reading. Ms. Stambaugh died in 2002."
Reviews - What do customers think about I Hear The Reaper's Song?
Valuable insights into a misunderstood culture Jun 22, 1998
1896 is the most eventful year of Silas Hershey's life. The Mennonite teenager works on the family's Pennsylvania farm, plays with his nearest cousins, and worships at whichever home hosts the meeting that week. He unquestioningly obeys his parents and the church elders and assumes life (with the addition of a girlfriend) will continue as it has.
Later he recognizes the early signs of change. One brother has moved to Montana to work, another wants to quit farming altogether. Sister Barbie is resisting her approaching marriage, raising fears she'll abandon the simple Mennonite lifestyle as her older sister did.
These small conflicts have a wide-reaching effect. As Silas explains, "Joining church was different in those days, something you did when you were grown-up and sure you'd decided for certain, usually after you'd been married a year or so.... That way young people had a chance to get the wildness out of their systems."
Now, though, one segment of the community wants hellfire sermons followed by public "born again" conversions and a stricter separation from the world, such as the Amish practice. This segment seizes on Barbie's tragic death to push their conviction that the unbaptized are damned.
Stambaugh is the granddaughter of Silas Hershey, which has given her access to private records and eyewitness accounts of that significant year. A native of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, she uses the sights, smells, and sounds of her childhood to make the Hershey farm live in the reader's mind. So does young Silas and through him, the whole question of, "How do we know we're saved?" This book is a jewel. Kathleen T. Choi, HAWAII CATHOLIC HERALD