post written by Emma Filbrun
Title: Loyalty Test
Author: Romaine Stauffer
Major Themes: Ephrata Cloister, Mennonites, Nonresistance, Pennsylvania, American Revolution
Synopsis: The story of the Mennonites during the American Revolution is told through the eyes of a man who became a leader of his church during that turbulent time.
Some of my boys have been looking forward to reading Loyalty Test ever since we read Hidden Riches several months ago. Even though they were printed about 30 years apart, Loyalty Test is a sequel to the other book. When Hidden Riches ended, Christian was in his mid-teens; the first chapter of this new book overlaps with the last chapter of that one and then the book goes on to tell his story as he becomes a man.
This book begins in 1762, before the end of the French and Indian War. As the story moves on, Christian finds a wife and begins his family. He is ordained to the ministry, and must seek God’s help to shepherd his flock through the difficult years of the Revolutionary War as tensions swirl around his family and church in Pennsylvania. We were fascinated with the way the Mennonites were treated, and how they responded to the way they were treated, by the colonial rebels during the war. It was actually quite shocking—and a good example for us when we are misunderstood. This was definitely a different viewpoint of the war, and a valuable different perspective. We started to wonder how much of what we “know” about the Revolution is fact, and how much is fiction. I appreciated how well-documented this book is, with footnotes on most pages and photographs of actual documents from the period.
Another facet of this book that I appreciated was the history of the Ephrata Cloister. My husband often talks about this place; he toured the historical site at least once. I found their beliefs and practices, as mentioned in Loyalty Test, quite fascinating. It was interesting to see how much interaction there was between the Cloister and the local Mennonites.
I highly recommend Loyalty Test for anyone interested in the Revolutionary War era who is open to reading a slightly different perspective than you’ll find in history books or even in most historical fiction. It is also a great resource for parents who want to strengthen their children’s faith in God and belief in nonresistance.
Read Aloud—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 13, Family Read Alouds
Reading Independently—Ages 12 – 15, 15 and Above, Adults
Links to buy Loyalty Test:
Keywords: Ephrata Cloister, Mennonites, Nonresistance, Pennsylvania, Family Read-alouds, Historical Fiction, Colonial Era (US), American Revolution