Disclaimer: Anna’s Crossing, by Suzanne Woods Fisher, is a review copy provided by Revell. Therefore, the format of this review will deviate from my normal blog review format.
“On a hot day in 1737 in Rotterdam, Anna König reluctantly sets foot on the Charming Nancy, a merchant ship that will carry her and her fellow Amish believers across the Atlantic to start a new life. As the only one in her community who can speak English, she feels compelled to go. But Anna is determined to complete this journey and return home—assuming she survives. She’s heard horrific tales of ocean crossings and worse ones of what lay ahead in the New World. But fearfulness is something Anna has never known.
Ship’s carpenter Bairn resents the somber people—dubbed Peculiars by the deckhands—who fill the lower deck of the Charming Nancy. All Bairn wants to do is to put his lonely past behind him, but that irksome and lovely lass Anna and her people keep intruding on him.
Delays, storms, illness, and diminishing provisions test the mettle and patience of everyone on board. When Anna is caught in a life-threatening situation, Bairn makes a discovery that shakes his entire foundation. But has the revelation come too late?”
Anna’s Crossing is a run-of-the-mill Christian historical fiction, with virtually nothing to separate it from any other novel like it. I do admit, however, that I have little experience with Christian historical fiction, especially of the Amish variation (of which there are many). I do like the “beginnings” approach that Fisher took, rather than the standard “once upon a time in the Amish community,” and that aspect, I think, is different than others. The romance, however, is mediocre at best and I took issues with the way Fisher approached the historicity aspect.
The problem with the romance was that it could have been much more intriguing if Bairn had stayed the “outsider” character rather than the entirely too convenient character that he became. I do like how Fisher does not try to either excuse or castigate Bairn for some of his previous choices; she could have heavily hammered in a moral but she handles it lightly instead and lets it flow with both the setting and what Bairn learns throughout the book. But besides that, the romance is unremarkable and predictable to the point of boredom.
My other issue is with the historicity of the novel; more exactly, the way Fisher softens history to fit her story. She has an extended note in the back of the book where she discusses the actual trip and what we know about it from letters, etc. and then basically states that she could not include all that in the book. Only one person dies during this supposedly perilous ocean crossing, and besides some uncomfortable seasickness and dehydration, there is no point where I ever thought that any of the characters (even the side characters) were close to death. I don’t know whether Fisher just doesn’t want to write about children and others dying, or if she thought her readers wouldn’t want to read it, but the way she softened down the crossing made it seem unrealistic. If Dear America, a series aimed at middle schoolers, can have two-year-olds dying of hemlock poisoning and main characters experiencing hangings and amputations and the horrors of the Holocaust, then novels aimed for adults should have just as much, if not more, of the same. I understand why Fisher wanted to leave the harsher things out, but it negatively affected the setting and historicity of the book as a result.
Anna’s Crossing is interesting for its look at the roots of the Amish, but the mediocre romance, the build-up of the perilous ocean crossing that is unfulfilled by the relatively tame conditions, and the predictability of plot means that it’s neither a stand-out nor even a particularly good book.
My rating: 2/5
Genre: Historical Fiction, Christian
You can buy this here: Anna’s Crossing