Author Guest Post
Butterflies and Amish
Writing my first novel, The Wanderers, I devoted my pen (well, keyboard, in my case) to truths and the truth—truths about our journey through life and the truth about a people very much in the spotlight today, the Amish.
The seeds for the book were planted years ago by my wife’s love of Monarchs. Every fall she would hunt out milkweed plants and find a tiny Monarch worm munching away on its leaves. She’d bring that worm home, keep it in a mason jar covered with a screen, and watch the process of an unseemly worm being transformed into a beautiful butterfly. She celebrated the emergence of the butterfly as a new birth, and released it to spread its wings and fly away. The Monarch butterfly migrates in the fall, and its story is amazing; it takes four generations to complete one cycle of migration.
My wife passed away from breast cancer on September 7, 2006. On the evening of her funeral, I fell into an exhausted sleep on my recliner. Around 2:00 AM, a fluttering sound awakened me. Flying in circles above me was a Monarch butterfly. One of Mary’s friends, knowing how much my wife loved Monarchs, had created a flower arrangement that included a branch with a chrysalis attached. The butterfly had emerged while I slept—on the very night of my wife’s funeral. I was amazed. As a spiritual person, I took that as a sign that God was showing me He had transformed my wife from an earthly creature into a heavenly one.
I released the butterfly into the cold September night. Over the next several years, as I recovered from the loss of my wife, I was often reminded of that butterfly. It was fourth generation, the generation that was genetically equipped to make the long pilgrimage of migration. What happened to that butterfly? Did it survive its long journey?
I wrote the account of that night in an early chapter of my first book, Hiking Through, the story of my journey through grief. But the questions and the fascination with the Monarch’s story never left me.
So when I began to write about the Monarch, I found that the butterfly’s story is an allegory that parallels many experiences in our own journeys. This opened another opportunity for me. I have long been disgusted with the portrayal of the Amish in many of today’s movies, books, and television shows. I was born into an Amish home and have lived all of my life in the middle of a large Amish community. I wanted folks to know that most of what they see in today’s media is sensationalized and exaggerated. I wanted to write about the Amish as accurately as I know them.
And so I paired the allegory of the Monarch’s story with the love story of two young Amish people, and the result is The Wanderers, a story of transformation, love, wandering, and looking for a place we call home.
About The Author
In the summer of 2010 Stutzman again heeded the call for adventure and pedaled his bicycle 5,000 miles across America. He began his ride at the Northwest corner of Washington State and pedaled to Key West, Florida. On his journey across America he encounters people in all circumstances, from homelessness to rich abundance. The people he meets touch his life profoundly. Stutzman writes about these encounters in his book Biking Across America.
Recently Stutzman released his first novel entitled The Wanderers. The Wanderers is a story about Johnny, a young Amish boy growing up in a culture he is not sure he wants to embrace. A young Amish girl named Annie wins his heart and life is great for a time. Entwined with Johnny and Annie’s story is the allegory of two Monarch butterflies, worms who have been transformed into amazing creatures specially chosen to carry out the miracle of the fourth generation. They, too, must undertake a long journey before they finally find home.
In addition to writing, he speaks to groups about his hiking and biking experiences and the lessons learned during these adventures.
Stutzman resides in Berlin, Ohio.
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The Wanderers by Paul Stutzman
Publisher: Wandering Home Books
Publication: November 24, 2013 (Original Publication: November 4, 2012)
Format: Paperback - 374 pages / Kindle - 1667 KB / Nook - 4 MB
Genre: Amish Fiction
BUY THE BOOK: The Wanderers
Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Pump Up Your Book! Virtual Book Publicity Tours.
Everything in God’s nature, Johnny observed, did what it was created to do. Everything, that is, except the human race. Johnny was born into an Amish family, into a long line of farmers and good businessmen. He is expected to follow the traditions of family and church as he grows to adulthood. But even as a boy, he questions whether he can be satisfied with this lifestyle. He wants “more” — more education, more travel, more opportunity.
His restlessness leads him down a dangerous road where too much partying and drinking result in heartbreaking consequences. He’s adrift, and no one seems to be able to help him find his direction.
Then he meets spunky Annie, who seems pure and lovely and devoted to her God. Her past, though, holds sin and heartbreak. She was a worm, she explains, but God has transformed her into a butterfly. Johnny falls hopelessly in love; and eventually he, too, finds the power of God to transform lives.
Settling down on the family farm, he forgets about the questions and the restlessness, thinking that he is happy and at home, at last.
But in a few short hours, tragedy changes his life forever, and he is again wondering… and wandering on a very long journey.
Entwined with Johnny and Annie’s story is the allegory of two Monarch butterflies, worms who have been transformed into amazing creatures specially chosen to carry out the miracle of the fourth generation. They, too, must undertake a long journey before they finally find home.
My Book Review:
The Wanderers is an interesting story about an Amish boy's coming of age and journey of self-discovery, finding love and faith, that is entwined with the journey of two Monarch Butterflies that were born on his family's Amish farm.
Johnny was born into an Amish farming family, but as he grows into adulthood he questions his family's traditions and lifestyle. He wants more out of life, and as he wanders on his journey of self-discovery, his restlessness leads him down a dangerous road. Johnny's direction and life is transformed when he meets and falls in love with Annie, a lovely girl who is devoted to her faith. But tragedy strikes that changes Johnny's life forever, causing him to once again wander on a new journey of discovery while searching for his home once again.
Sabio and Mariposa are two Monarch Butterflies that are born on Johnny's family's farm. Transforming from worms into beautiful butterflies, they embark on their own long journey of being entrusted with carrying out the amazing miracle of the fourth generation before finding their own home.
Author Paul Stutzman weaves an intriguing multi-layered tale of love, hope, faith and finding your home/place in the world. It took me awhile to get into the story as it was a bit confusing with the alternating perspectives of different characters as well as that of the butterflies. But once I got a grasp of Johnny's and the butterflies stories, I was able to get drawn into the story as their journeys unfolded.
I was intrigued with the Amish lifestyle, the author utilizes his Amish background to provide the reader with a richly detailed and descriptive look into the Amish community. As a person who has always been fascinated by Monarch Butterflies, I enjoyed the author's description of the transformation of the two worms into amazing Monarch Butterflies and their own magical journey.
The journey of discovery and wandering is left open-ended and leaves the reader wanting more. It looks like story will be continued in the next book.
RATING: 4 STARS ****
Virtual Book Tour Schedule
First Chapter Reveal at Pump Up Your Book
Wednesday, November 6
Book Review & First Chapter Reveal at Lighthouse Academy
Thursday, November 7
First Chapter Reveal at The Book Connection
Friday, November 8
Interview & Book Giveaway at PUYB Virtual Book Club
Monday, November 11
Book Review at Splashes of Joy
Book Feature at Shhh…Not While I’m Reading
Tuesday, November 12
Book Featured at Laurie’s Thoughts & Reviews
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Wednesday, November 13
Book Review at Shhh…Not While I’m Reading
Thursday, November 14
Guest Blogging at Shhh…Not While I’m Reading
Friday, November 15
First Chapter Review at Cheryl’s Christian Book Connection
Monday, November 18
Book Review at Musings by Maureen
Tuesday, November 19
Book Review at My Devotional Thoughts
Wednesday, November 20
Book Review at Melina’s Book Blog
Book Feature at Moonlight Lace & Mayhem
First Chapter Reveal at Fallen Over Book Reviews
Thursday, November 21
Book Review at Deco My Heart
Book Feature at Rambling Voices in My Head
Friday, November 22
Guest Blogging at The Busy Moms Daily
Monday, November 25
Book Feature at Jody’s Book Reviews
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Friday, November 29
Book Review at Books, Reviews, ETC.
Monday, December 2
Book Review at Deal Sharing Aunt
Tuesday, December 3
First Chapter Reveal at The Writer’s Life
First Chapter Reveal at The Reading Cat
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First Chapter Reveal at Read My First Chapter
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Book Review at Blooming with Books
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Book Review at WV Stitcher
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