Louise M. Coffman
Reviewed by Richard R. Blake for Reader Views (9/13)
Article first published as Book Review: ‘Abner’s Dilemma’ by Louise M. Coffman on Blogcritics.
“Abner’s Dilemma” by Louise M. Coffman is based on the true story of the Hartzells, the Atlands, and the Bentzels. These families escaped from religious persecution while being forced out of the Bavarian Alps. Ten-year-old Abner and his friends are among the Brethren refugees whose faith was being tested again as they wait on the eastern banks of the Susquehanna River for Thomas Penn to sign a treaty with the Susquehannock Indians.
After a year the treaty had not yet been signed. Abner’s family struggled with the challenge of surviving in the new world. Abner learned the value of hard work, forgiveness, and a strong in faith in God.
As in the earlier books in the Abner Series, Louise M. Coffman takes the reader back in history to the early years of the eighteenth century to educate and entertain a new generation of the descendants of the Pennsylvania Dutch on the culture of their ancestors.
Coffman uses dialog and description to develop her characters and to move the plot forward. At times I felt the story was moving along at a slow pace, however, I was pulled into the plight of the people in a way that intrigued me and kept me involved in the storyline.
It is obvious Coffman has a keen power of observation and has a deep appreciation of nature from the way she describes wildlife, the seasons, the migration of birds, and the awesome wonders of creation. She demonstrates the same skill in her understanding of human emotions, as she introduces humor and wit to reveal the innocence of youth and the blind stubbornness often attributed to domineering men and women portrayed in her characters.
Although Coffman often introduces lightheartedness, in otherwise highly dramatic situations, through the use of a fictional approach, this does not detract from the careful research and reality of the biographical incidents introduced throughout the narrative.
“Abner’s Dilemma” by Louise M. Coffman is an important contribution to literature on the history, culture and heritage of the early settlers of the Pennsylvania Dutch of York County.