Plain Roots - Book Review

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Book Review of :  Plain Roots


Plain Roots by Becki Willis and published by Clear Creek Publishers is a contemporary cozy mystery at its best.  The novel is a convincing tale that will have you asking if it is a memoir or a novel - fiction or non-fiction?  The main character, Taryn Clark, is a very believable, determined and likable young woman with a quest. She wants to find out where she came from; she wants to find her roots. She has a clue that indicates where her mother was on the day of her birth; it appeared that she was in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  This minor clue excites Taryn, gives her hope and prompts her to start the pursuit of her roots right off.  

            As a successful adult, caught up in her daily life she had thought her need, her desire to discover her true heritage had receded, didn’t matter, and regardless of effort would be an impossible undertaking. Taryn’s life is unremarkable. She is attractive but ordinary looking except for her unusual violet eyes.  A mutation of genes, only approximately 600 people in the world have this eye color.

            Most adopted children question the circumstances of their birth and heritage. With more liberal laws that now permit the opening of sealed birth records, Taryn had felt she might quickly discover the information she sought about her parents, but the records she wanted were not that easy to find, and her search seemed stymied.  Her adoptive parents had been lost to her at age six through death and divorce. She had suffered through years of being shuffled through a dysfunctional foster care system. Over the years she had not located birth records that could help her. The dream of finding her birth family seemed impossible

            Much to her surprise her clue led to Lancaster County and placed her in the heart of the Amish, or Plain community.  Her unique eye color and the help of a lady named Helen leads her to the discovery of an Amish family with similar eyes. Could this family be related to her?

            The novel is not without a villain. Someone is very interested in Taryn quest to discover everything about her mother. Strange things start to happen. Outsiders show up in the Amish community looking for her, but why? One of her credit cards is suddenly maxed out. Other weird things happen. On the onset of these happenings she hires a private detective, Bryce Elliott and soon this man is more than just her employee.

The mysteries deepen as they investigate family secrets. Her personal relationship with Bryce begins to deepen as well.  Taryn knows that someone wants to harm her but why?

            Unearthing her distant birth family in the Amish Community suddenly appears to be a reality. She also discovers that the Amish way of life was very alien and contrary to her modern-day upbringing, customs, and experiences.

            She rents a room from this Amish family who welcomes her as a paying guest. At first, they don’t know what her true reasons for being there. As these strangers from dissimilar backgrounds become acquainted Taryn’s unique eyes lead to questions from Lillian whose family shares the trait.  Lillian “reached up to take off her eyeglasses, revealing eyes of the same unique shade as Susannah’s and Taryn’s. ‘And you have the King’s eyes,’ Lillian stated.”

            Culture depends on language, customs, and traditions. Willis writes with authority of modern-day Amish culture, which is so different from Taryn’s world.  The Amish family’s backstories and secrets are skillfully introduced to Taryn. She discovers that the young spoke Dutch and didn’t learn English until they are in school. Their clothing is plain and old-fashioned. They rely on buggies, propane and solar power. Raise vegetables and milk cows.  “Their restrictive lifestyle is dictated by their faith but adopted by choice” left Taryn totally confused. Through her quest for family information,

Taryn begins to understand how important community is to the Amish. She learns what high value the Amish people place on community. She is surprised to learn about rumspringa, a strange tradition when Amish young people are allowed to indulge in the English way of life. At the end of this experience with the outside world, they have a choice to make, leave their family, community, and roots or fully commit to their faith and family.

           Why is a mysterious individual relentlessly searching for Taryn? What happens between her and her sleuth? What life will she finally embrace, Amish or English?  Plain Roots by Becki Willis is a great fun mystery and a cursory glimpse into the customs and ways of the Amish.  

Plain Roots is reminiscent of the Amish novels by Beverly Lewis and Wanda Brunstetter. The novel could be expanded into a romantic sequel.  As a cozy mystery, it would make a very interesting Hallmark Movie.

About Becki Willis


Becki Willis, best known for her popular The Sisters, Texas Mystery Series and Forgotten Boxes, always dreamed of being an author. In November of '13, that dream became a reality. Since that time, she has published numerous books, won first place honors for Best Mystery Series, Best Suspense Fiction, Best Paranormal Fiction and Best Audio Book, won a RONE Award, and has introduced her imaginary friends to readers around the world. An avid history buff, Becki likes to poke around in old places and learn about the past. Other addictions include reading, writing, junking, unraveling a good mystery, and coffee. She loves to travel, but believes coming home to her family and her Texas ranch is the best part of any trip. Becki is a member of the Association of Texas Authors, Writer's League of Texas, Sisters in Crime, the National Association of Professional Women, and the Brazos Writers organization. She attended Texas A&M University and majored in Journalism. You can connect with her at:


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By: RebeccaDate: 02/28/2022 19:30:43
I really enjoyed this book. The story developed with a very interesting and clear plot. The characters were likable. They varied from her other books. The setting in Amish countryside culture was delightfully appealing . The only criticism that I have is the last chapters didn’t tie up all the loose ends and left me with unanswered questions. It seemed an almost rushed conclusion.

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