Somewhere to Belong (Daughters of Amana, Book 1)

by Judith A. Miller

Paperback, 2010



Call number



Bethany House Publishers (2010), Edition: Reprinted, 368 pages


Although she's always longed to see the outside world, Johanna Ilg believes her future is rooted in the Amana community inhabited by devout Christians. But when she learns a troubling secret, the world she thought she knew is shattered and she is forced to make difficult choices about a new life and the man she left behind. Berta Schumacher has lived a privileged life in Chicago, and when her parents decide they want a simpler life in Amana, Iowa, she resists. Under the strictures of the Amana villages, Berta's rebellion reaches new heights. Will her heart ever be content among the plain people of Amana?

User reviews

LibraryThing member hobbitprincess
I looked forward to reading this book when I received it, but it disappointed me. I did learn about a community I had never heard of, the Amana community, which was interesting, but the way it is presented in this book doesn't make me want to learn more. There is so little joy and happiness in this book! I've read so many fiction books about the Amish, and even in such a closed society, there is joy and laughter. Amana seems to be a place of drudgery and work and little else. I never did warm to either character, Johanna or Berta. The switching back and forth I found confusing, which is odd because I normally enjoy books written from different perspectives. While I appreciated learning something new, this book just fell flat for me.… (more)
LibraryThing member WCallister
I enjoyed the simplicity of the life they lead in the book! Wonderful story of trying to find your way as a young adult. It was a slightly slow beginning but once you get reading it is a wonderful story!
LibraryThing member tjward
Somewhere to Belong was a fun book to read. Especially as we are located near the Amana's and visit or drive through at least weekly. It was fun to read about Homestead, Middle, South, ect. The characters were enchanting and look foward to reading the next in the series.
LibraryThing member kibosa
I enjoyed reading this book about two young women and their families living in the Amana Colonies of Iowa in the 1850's. I expected a story to Little House of the Prairie, but was pleasantly surprised by the very adult situations presented. The experiences Johanna and Berta endured helped develop them into very interesting characters. Look forward to the next book of the series. I would recommend this book for Beverly Lewis fans and those that enjoy historical fiction.… (more)
LibraryThing member starbritejan
Somewhere to Belong is a very enjoyable book to read. The simplicity of the life in the Amana Colonies reminds me of my own childhood , growing up in the country with no electricity or indoor plumbing. This books shows how to find pleasure and happiness in the simple things in life and how to depend on God even for the little things. I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series!!… (more)
LibraryThing member journeygirl
An engaging, historical fiction tale of two very different girls in the Amana Colonies. In a world of super-sizing our food, houses, cars, and material possessions, Somewhere to Belong inspires a simpler, more peaceful life, while at the same time, shows families of all walks of life must handle adversity in communication. It took me a few chapters to get into the book, but soon, I reached the point where I could not put it down. While the message is on finding your true place in the world, for me, the book provided a lesson on taking joy in the pleasures of faith, family, and service to God. I look forward to more in the series.… (more)
LibraryThing member nolak
Although the style is a bit confusing, this book has great value to people of all persuasions. The writing goes back and forth between two young women and is hard to follow for that reason. If there were more at the beginning to help differentiate between who was who, the book would have been easier to read. The historical accuracy was evident and the character of Berta was very realistic for any young woman her age. The conflict between the two lifestyles and the choices that need to be made were well drawn. Anyone wanting to know what it is like to live in such a commune would have a much better idea of what to expect by reading this book.
Berta Schumacher and her parents leave the lively social life of Chicago for the peace of Amana. Her mother adapts, but Berta is not used to all the religious meetings and hard work without time for play. She befriends her helper, Johanna Ilg, who has grown up in Amana, but longs to see the outside world. Each girl must face challenges and secrets in their families, along with blossoming romance. Johanna finds her place after visiting Chicago, but Berta is still deciding. There is enough suspense to keep you waiting for the next book.
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LibraryThing member quadmama
i just finished reading this lovely story. I learned a little about the people of Amana. I am fascinated by the concept of a simpler life, a life where focus on family and God are clear and everything else that we are familiar with in our modern world wasn't present to interfere with those most important things. I am happy to have had the opportunity to read this story and look forward to future books in this new series. If you are a fan of Janette Oke books as I am then this would be a great read for you!… (more)
LibraryThing member mszacman
An enjoyable book to read. I had never heard of the Amana Colonies, and it was nice to learn about a part of history that was new to me. This was a lovely story about working hard, taking joy in the simple things, finding a place in the world, and most of all depending on God.
LibraryThing member LMurrayK
I really wanted to like this book. It had an interesting premise, but I was disappointed with the execution. I'm hoping that they catch some of the mistakes and awkward sentences before it hits the shelves. I liked the insight into the calm and earnest lives of the people in Amana, but some of the characters were a bit cardboard cut-out-ish. I also didn't believe in Bertha's transformation. She spent way too long being a selfish brat and only turned around at the last minute. I'm assuming the next book will be about her story, but I don't really care enough to read it to find out.… (more)
LibraryThing member Radella
Johanna has lived in the Amana Colonies in Iowa all of her life. Berta is newly arrived in the colonies and is used to the good life in Chicago, and is not at all happy about her new life. Johanna is tasked with showing Berta what is expected, and welcoming her into the community. Neither is happy with the situation, but Johanna does her best to help Berta understand not only her job in the kitchen, but how their life reflects their belief. Through love, betrayal, secrets, and hard work, the two become friends. They each learn what is important in life, and how to forgive.
Miller does an excellent job of capturing the feeling and essence of the Amana Colonies. They are somber people, but not without their enjoyments. They were not perfect, but they were devoted to their lifestyle and their belief in God. The characters are realistic, and behave as if they were real. It really doesn’t have a lot of action, but the book is moved along by Berta’s impulsive decisions and Johanna’s desire to help keep things running smoothly. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.
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LibraryThing member judyg54
This is a story of 2 young women who live in the Amana colony in Iowa in 1877. Johanna Ilg has grown up at Amana, but has always had a longing to see Chicago, where her brother Wilhelm lives, after he left the Amana community. Berta Schumacher finds herself coming to the Amana colony with her parents at the beginning of the book, and not knowing it was to stay there. Berta is not a "happy camper" and gets herself into trouble quite often. Johanna has been given the task of taking Berta under her wing and helping her get acquainted with how things are done in their community, which is not an easy task.
I liked the insight this story gave of how the Amana colonies were run. I also liked getting to know both girls and seeing how each of them struggled with issues in their life, one just did it more openly than the other. At the end of the story both girls end up facing major issues in their life. To me this book showed the importance of honesty in a family and the importance of not keeping secrets. It was a entertaining and enlightening book and I will look forward to reading the other stories in this series.
I would like to thank Bethany House for giving me a free copy to review.
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LibraryThing member khager
This takes place in the Amana colonies in the late 1800s. (I hadn't heard of them before, but they're similar to the Amish in terms of dress, general demeanor and speech.)

Berta is dragged to Amana against her will. Her parents have had enough of her lies and disrespect. (Berta's 17 and is determined not to stay there and makes a huge nuisance of herself every chance she gets.)

Johanna has always lived in Amana and loves it there. She wants to travel, but she knows Amana would always be her home.

Will Johanna get to leave and will Berta be able to let herself be happy if she stays?

This is a story of unlikely friendship and (in Berta's case) unlikely faith. Very fun. :) (Especially when Berta's being rebellious.)
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LibraryThing member denisa.howe
The combining of two worlds, two girls and the bond that comes to be. A bit of a mystery, a parents mystery or secret the best... Wonderful read, held my attention AND I read it in one sitting...
LibraryThing member Sonya.Contreras
The contrast between the two main female characters created an interesting tug-of-war between values, beliefs, and motivations. But though so different, they are not so different. The struggle to find what both really wanted caused many struggles.
Although one character's resolution seemed forced and incomplete, it was an interesting read.… (more)
LibraryThing member b-den
When I first started reading this book I thought it was going to be a disappointment, but after the first chapter it started to get interesting. Over all the book was good, I enjoyed reading it and towards the end I didn't want to put it down! The end of the book seemed a little bit rushed, but it was a good read.
LibraryThing member Mozzie
A lovely story with very realistic characters

A lovely story with very realistic characters

I wanted to read this book to be able to see life from within Amish communities. I was pleased by how lovable the two main characters are and even more, I found their faith charming to see. I have found that many Christian fiction books push their faith upon the reader but Ms. Miller manages to make it an essential part of the character development without it feeling forced. I will gladly keep my eyes open for the other books in this series.… (more)
LibraryThing member Maydacat
Don’t confuse the residents of the Amana village with the Amish; they are not the same. Though they share some similar beliefs and habits, there are also distinct differences. In this work of historical fiction, author Judith Miller gives us some background into understanding the workings of the people of Amana. Johanna has grown up at Amana, but Berta has been thrust into the community as a teenager. Johanna has been assigned to help acclimate Berta to life there. But in the midst of both their struggles with this task, Johanna discovers a life-changing secret. The first in a trilogy, the author has set up a thought-provoking story with engaging characters. She has also achieved a good balance between presenting a good story while maintaining a Christian overview.… (more)
LibraryThing member Allie64
I grew up not far from the Amana I loved seeing how the story revolved around them. I enjoyed the story and characters so much that I would love to read more about the lifestyle. I plan on reading more of this authors books!


Original language


Physical description

8.25 inches


0764206427 / 9780764206429

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