In Kim Vogel Sawyer’s latest release, When Love Returns (WaterBrook Press) she wraps up her Zimmerman Restoration Trilogy with the conclusion of Suzanne’s story, which began in book one. Kim answered our questions about this stunning finale.
This book is set a Mennonite community. You’ve written Amish and Mennonite books before, correct? Can you tell us the main differences between the two faiths/cultures?
Both of these groups come from the same Anabaptist tree. The initial separation came when a group of believers led by Jacob Ammann, felt the Mennonites weren’t living their faith strictly enough. So they broke away and formed their own communities with stricter “dress codes” and ordinances by which they were governed. Generally speaking (and it’s a broad generalization), Amish is more works-focused while Mennonites are grace-based when it comes to salvation. There are exceptions on both halves of the coin.
This book highlights a real problem in conservative communities, not just Mennonite communities. That is the shunning of pregnant teens. Why did you choose to write about this topic?
I needed a conflict that would create a long-term separation, and given the importance of purity until marriage, an out-of-wedlock pregnancy gave me the situation. Although I can’t condone pre-marital relations because it goes against what God instructs for believers, I also struggle with the stigma that follows girls who’ve become pregnant out of wedlock. Should one mistake define who they are for the rest of their lives? I don’t think any mistake should have that power.
In the book prior to this one, you wrote about Suzanne’s daughter Alexa. Why did you decide to tell Suzanne’s story as well? Was it interesting to walk around inside both characters and tell stories from each of their perspectives?
Suzanne’s story began in book one, When Mercy Rains, and it needed completion. Many of Suzanne’s secrets came to light in book one, but the biggest one–concerning her biological child given up for adoption–remained hidden in shadows. This one needed its opportunity to be shattered, as well. I hope book three will close all story threads and satisfy the readers.