Book Review: The Tinderbox by Beverly Lewis

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With her Amish parents' twentieth anniversary approaching, eighteen-year-old Sylvia Miller stumbles across a surprise--the old brass tinderbox her clockmaker father keeps in his Lancaster County shop has been left unlocked. Against her better judgment, Sylvia opens the cherished heirloom, not realizing that what she is about to discover will splinter apart her happy life.

Sylvia's bewilderment grows when her father confronts her about snooping in the box. To her amazement, the respected convert to the Old Order reacts as if he has something to hide.

Burdened by the weight of his deception, Earnest Miller decides he must reveal the details about his past to his beloved wife, Rhoda. The long-kept secret alters everything for the close-knit family, jeopardizing Earnest and Rhoda's relationship, as well as threatening Sylvia's recent engagement to the preacher's grandson.

Can the Millers find a way forward through the turmoil to a place of forgiveness and acceptance?

  • Genre: Amish Fiction

  • Published: 4/2/2019

  • Publisher: Bethany House

  • Pages: 320

  • Goodreads Rating: 4.30 Stars

Heidi’s Rating:

4 Stars

Suggested Drink Parings:

Tea: Sweet Iced Tea

Coffee: Cinnamon Latte

I’ve marveled at Dat’s ability to accept the Old Ways so readily, considering his modern upbringing. Mamma says it’s like he was born to be Amish. Maybe so, but all the same, I wished I knew something more about his past.
— Sylvia

Why I Chose This Book

The Tinderbox is the chosen book this month for the Bethany House Blogger program. I absolutely love Beverly’s books so I was excited to read her new release.

First Initial Thoughts

Sylvia is a young woman who has a loving family and boyfriend. Everything is going right until she opens her father’s box in his shop. Her father was not always Amish. He came into the Amish community when he was in his 20s and after proving himself to the community, he married Rhoda, Sylvia’s mother. His past is unknown and he rarely talks about it with his wife and children.

Rhoda and Earnest, Sylvia’s parents are very much in love and have that kind of relationship that we look up to having in our own marriage. However, once Sylvia opens that box, the whole family and relationship are tested.

Titus is Sylvia’s boyfriend. In the beginning he proposes to Sylvia and she is beyond excited. What I found odd is that they only were courting for a few months and never kissed. While I understand that the Amish are conservative, I had no idea they were that conservative. So it was clear to me from the start, that Sylvia’s Amish community was very traditional. I didn’t really like Titus, something about him just didn’t feel right. I won’t go into much, but the actions he conveyed just seemed odd.


As always Beverly has a talent in immersing you into the Amish community. Each Amish community has different rules on whether or not they have access to technology or electricity. It was hard to tell if this book was set back in the early 20th century because no technology or electricity was mentioned. However, when they did mention “Uber” it was clear it was set in modern day time. Therefore, it’s clear that Sylvia’s Amish community does not have access to telephone, electricity, etc.

That time could turn up his swift sandy glass, to untell the days, and to redeem these hours.
— Thomas Heywood

Final Thoughts

What was inside the box, I kind of guessed from the beginning. I won’t spoil anything, but the contents inside the box really weren’t that bad. But I could see how it would cause issues within the family. I think that without Rhoda and Earnest’s love for each other, they wouldn’t have tried to make things work out. This book is about all about trusting one another and learning to forgive. Trusting in God to understand that time heals everything. I really liked how strong their family was and their willingness to forgive each other.

Also, the book just kind of… ended. Not until the author note in the back did I find out that this is part of a duo-logy. The second book in the series is set to come out this November.

I also really felt for Sylvia. At 18 you should really know better not to snoop in other people’s belongings. However, as human nature goes we are curious and must know what’s inside. I think this situation is similar to other stories in the Bible - where people are tempted to do things they really shouldn’t do. Later in their story they learn from their mistakes and receive forgiveness not only from the people around them but also Christ.

Titus also plays an important role later on in the book and Sylvia has to re think her relationship with him. I won’t say much beyond that, but I didn’t like what TItus did. I hope they both find redemption in the next book.

Would I Recommend?

Yes, most definitely. I think if you are a fan of Amish fiction and of Beverly’s books, you will throughly enjoy this one.

Would you ever move to the Amish country and become Amish? I don’t know if I could. Share in the comments!

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Note: I was sent a copy of this book from the publisher to review. All opinions are my own.