Today’s guest is Kristen Esh, the heroine of Author Linda Maran’s The Stranger. I’m so glad to have you here with us Kristen since your story was released on Friday.
Will you tell us a little about your life—as it was and what it has become?
I was alone a lot due to my mom working so much and the arrangement of our living situation. Mom was the live-in help for Ross Maddock, who was a wonderful man, but he was the employer. There was no eating around the table together for meals or holidays. I had no extended relatives so my best friend, Cindy, invited me to her home for dinner and Christmas. Living close to the beach was the bonus of our situation. I loved everything about it…the scent, the sounds, the sunsets and having a great place to hang out with my friends and to walk with Mom on her Sundays off.
Now I live in the country without my ocean. But here there’s a whole set of different smells and views that I have come to love too. I have family…aunts, uncles and cousins. This is still so amazing to me. Especially eating every meal in the company of all or most of them. Cell phones and television are not missed as much as I’d assumed they’d be because I’m too busy and not alone and needy for Social Media. I also learned how to pray and not until I came here did I realize the importance of prayer.
It’s been a while since I was your age, but as I read your story, I couldn’t help but to think of how I would handle your situation. How difficult was it for you to adapt to the Amish life?
I was totally panicked. Everything and everyone I knew before I arrived to live with my Amish family, was gone. I dressed different, spoke different and came from a completely different background. I was literally a stranger among them. And on top of that, to not have the modern conveniences like electricity or an indoor bathroom was more change than I thought I could deal with. During those first weeks, I cried myself to sleep.
What are some of the things that you miss from your life outside of the Amish community? What in the Amish life do you embrace?
I miss the Jersey Shore environment of sand, ocean and boardwalk activity. I miss wearing my hair down in summer and jeans in winter. I miss getting to places by public transportation or by car. And I miss kissing people ‘hello’ or ‘goodbye.’
I love the feeling of belonging. Of having family and of growing in my faith. I like having simple choices now in what I wear and what to do. I like the clean natural living.
Based on your life experiences, both outside and inside the Amish community, what is one thing that you feel young adults need to know about life in general?
That no matter what changes happen you will be able to get through it and come out OK in the end. That even if you feel you don’t belong or are not one of the crowd, there is a place and others just like you where you do fit and belong and God will lead you there. Trust in who you are on the inside. Pray every day.
More About The Stranger:
When Kristen Esh loses her mom in a tragic accident months before her eighteenth birthday, she suddenly finds herself among Amish relatives she never knew she had. The dramatic change from the Jersey Shore to the remote Stone Arabia in upstate New York is difficult enough, but abiding by the Amish rules and lifestyle is a challenge unlike any other.
When anonymous notes begin to arrive for her to go back to where she came from, Kristen longs for her past life and her mom. As she discovers secrets that unravel her true identity, she finds an unlikely ally in John Wagler, the step-son of her aunt. He lessens Kristen’s fears and encourages her faith.
Interwoven with gradual revelations is the growing love between Kristen and John. One that encourages forgiveness and helps seal Kristen’s fate.
Linda began writing poetry as a teenager and then turned to food and self-help article writing in her adult years. Now, in her sixties, she is blessed to have her first novel published, which has been her goal for many years. She enjoys reading, writing, research, painting, music, playing drums, walking, contemplative prayer, and sampling new eateries. Her personal experiences, both good and challenging, have become material for stories. This helps her to write about what she knows best, which lends authenticity to her platform. She has been married for thirty-eight years, is a practicing Catholic, and has been surrounded by musicians most of her life. She resides in both city and country settings. Wherever Linda is residing, you can find her on Facebook, on Twitter, on her blog, and you can learn more about her debut novel here.