Isaac and David have taken the enormous step of leaving their conservative Amish community and fleeing to San Francisco. There they are taken in by Isaac’s brother, Aaron, and his wife, Jen, who welcome them into their home. Isaac is thrilled to see his brother again, after Aaron was disowned for leaving the church himself. And the young men finally can begin to build a life where they can be together without hiding.
With Aaron’s help, the two begin to settle into their new lives. Aaron begins to teach them about the English ways, buys them clothes, and helps them get settled. Things are still quite complicated, however. Isaac and David have lived such incredibly sheltered lives and been raised with almost no formal education. Almost everything is new and different and it takes them a lot of time and questions to understand the bustling world around them. Not to mention that they can barely wrap their heads around the fact that it is ok to be gay here, and can even be seen publicly showing affection.
With time, David is able to open up his carpentry business again and Isaac returns to school. However while Isaac seems to be finding his way, making friends and settling into his new life, David is struggling much more. He has a harder time dealing with the changes in his life. He feels responsible for taking care of Isaac and worries about money. He starts suffering from panic attacks, and resorting to drinking to calm himself. And worst of all, he still feels horrible guilt for leaving his mother and sisters behind. David still feels like he should be the man of the family and it hurts to know he has left them.
David and Isaac still love one another but making this new life isn’t easy. They must work hard to share their feelings and be honest with one another before all the changes end up coming between them.
So I totally adored Andrew’s A Forbidden Rumspringa, and it was one of my favorite books of last year. So I have been DYING for this second installment to see what happens to my darling David and Isaac. I really loved seeing the direction Andrews takes this story, bringing them to San Francisco and into a totally new world. One of my favorite elements of the first book is how we get immersed in the world of their Amish community and learn so much about these guys and how they live. Here Andrews takes that same skill and applies it to the outside world as we see David and Isaac’s wide eyed wonder as they try to acclimate to their new life. There are so many great details that show just how much they don’t know or understand, and give us a perfect sense of how they might realistically react to things like trying to figure out what kind of underwear to wear, or taking a cable car for the first time. It is so wonderfully done that I felt like I was experiencing it right along with them.
These guys don’t just face the unfamiliarity of words and customs, they also are dealing with a total life upheaval. They must figure out who they are and what they want in this new life. It is so clear that they love each other intensely, but beyond knowing they want to be together, they must figure everything else out. Here we see the contrast as Isaac begins to acclimate more quickly, and David still struggles to fit in to his new life. We are in David’s POV for this story and we can see what a hard time he is having. He feels such a sense of guilt for leaving his family, and an overwhelming sense of responsibility to care for them, as well as for Isaac. Andrews really puts us in his head as we see him slowly spiraling out of control and trying to keep up a brave face the whole time.
For all the conflicts, I really appreciate that we never have to doubt the love these guys feel for each other and that is what provides the backbone for this whole story. David and Isaac are so in love and so committed to one another, that even as they go through rough times, I never doubt that they will make it.
This story does suffer a little bit from “middle book syndrome,” something that often occurs in the 2nd installment of a trilogy. Andrews handles it quite well actually in that they start this story fresh, so it doesn’t feel so much like a continuation of the previous book. But it doesn’t have quite the sense of completeness as the first story, and this one ends with a much less clear resolution. There is a cliffhanger of sorts, which means this book isn’t going to stand alone. Then again, if you are reading this book, there was no chance you weren’t going to want to read the series anyway. I mean, it is fabulous and as soon as you pick up one book you are going to want to read them all.
Overall I really loved this story and really enjoyed the new direction Andrews takes their lives. And even with the cliffhanger, I am really intrigued with where things appear to be going for the next book. I am so excited for the final installment! Truly, this series is fabulous and the book is wonderful. If you haven’t read the first book yet, pick it up immediately. And if you have read it, I probably don’t need to tell you that you are going to want to read this fabulous second installment as well.