Katie Fisher is an Amish young woman, who has been sheltered her entire life and knows little of the outside world, and yet she is charged with murdering her newborn child and denies ever being pregnant. Katie Fisher is only 18 years old and believes fervently in all that she has been taught in her strict Amish community. She, as most Amish children do, left school in the 8th grade and lives at home, until she marries and moves away. Therefore, the charge of murdering her own baby and disposing of his body, as well as that nobody in her community knew she was pregnant is more shocking than it might be in a more sophisticated area.
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A successful lawyer, Ellie Hathaway, who is related to Katie's family through marriage, has recently come to the area to relax, until she agrees to represent Katie when she is arrested. In order to comply with the court orders for bail, she agrees to physically stay with Katie and Katie must submit to electronic monitoring. As information emerges about Katie's own beliefs and experiences, prove that she gave birth and she begins lactating, she continues to deny any possibility of pregnancy or childbirth, even after needing surgery due to complications from childbirth.
However, things begin to make a little more sense when it is disclosed that Katie, who lives as an only child in the family home, was actually one of three children. Her mother has several miscarriages before requiring an emergency hysterectomy after her her last birth. Her younger sister, by four years, died as the result of ice-skating on a pond that was not completely frozen at the age of seven while under Katie's care.
Her older brother was banned from the community and therefore considered dead to many baptized Amish individuals after he decided to go to college. Katie, because she was not yet baptized was not held to the same standards as adults, has been allowed to sneak away for occasional visits to visit her brother, by her mother. However, her father did not know of these visits and would never have approved of them if he had been asked.
On these visits, Katie wore regular clothing and frequently met her brother's friends and acquaintances. Katie has continued to miss her sister and truly believes that her sister's spirit lingers as a ghost. That provides he with a special interest in her brother's friend, Adam, who recently completely his degree in Paranormal science.
In addition, additional medical testing has come to light that suggests the baby was not murdered, but instead died as the result of an infection that the mother contracted due to drinking unpasteurized milk during pregnancy. Meanwhile, Ellie also re-establishes both a personal and romantic relationship with someone she dated nearly 20 years prior, in college.
Finally, it is disclosed that Katie and Adam spent a single night together, during which she conceived their child. Adam was in love with her and she believed she was also in love with him, but he left the country soon after for further education and never knew about the baby. Ellie discovers that she is unexpectedly pregnant with Coop's baby, which both complicates and changes her understanding of the case. Much of that change relates to the early complications she experiences and the probability, early on, of miscarriage.
The book completes by Katie still maintaining that she was not pregnant and therefore did not give birth or take any action that contributed to his death. This allowed her to plead no contest to the charges and receive probation, in lieu of a prison sentence. It is believed that she has a long dissociative episode and truly remembers nothing, while her relationship with Adam is unanswered.
In the final moments, Katie's mother, Sarah asks Ellie to dispose of the scissors that she used to cut the baby's umbilical cord. The reason that Katie did not remember giving birth or disposing of the remains was that her mother had done it. She could not bear to lose her last child, had seen the changes in her daughter's body and had done what she could to mitigate the problem. Due to the fact that this information came out after the sentence was given, it is unclear what, if any, impact she would personally experience as the result of her actions and lies.
Best part of story, including ending:
I loved the fact that I truly had no idea what the final pages would include. I briefly considered a rape scenario, that might be sufficient for the dissociative episodes and was shocked to find that the mother not only left the material there for her daughter to find, but also removed him and hid him after the birth. The Amish lifestyle, word usage, patterns, beliefs, etc. were also very authentic.
Best scene in story:
Early on, there is a sewing group of women in the Amish community. Katie and her mother attend, which means that Ellie must as well. I thought it was very telling that even with the Amish beliefs against seeking justice or revenge, the mother of an infant did not want Katie near her baby. They were friends, but her motherly instincts were stronger than her religious beliefs and that seemed to be very authentic.
Opinion about the main character:
I really liked that Katie so firmly believed that she was being unfairly abused and was innocent. It was not an attempt to cover something, she truly did not remember being pregnant and could not cope with losing her virginity, even though it was consenual.