Familiarity dominates Petersheim’s 'Alliance'

The AllianceThe Alliance by Jolina Petersheim
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Numerous movies, television shows and novels have explored scenarios where the United States loses power and Americans are forced to rely on their cunning or innate ingenuity to survive. Emily St. John Mandel was successful in her execution of “Station Eleven,” which avoided the preachiness of so many dystopian tales and effectively wrapped the story in a neat little bow without leaving the bitterness of writer’s convenience.

While author Jolina Petersheim’s “The Alliance” also relays a world where electricity ceases, because of war or other means, she conveys her story in an intriguing setting. The story of Leora Ebersole, her family, neighbors, stranded Englischers, and newcomer Moses Hughes takes place in a Mennonite community where modern conveniences already, for the most part, are shunned. The question here isn’t how to survive without electricity, but how to outlast the many people the outsiders suggest may want to enter and steal their hard-wrought supplies. Should this pacifist community take up arms? Should they welcome the sick and the hungry?

Unfortunately, a familiar love triangle overshadows Jolina Petersheim’s story as do the pervading doubtfulness that takes hold of the novel’s primary character and the novel’s unsatisfying cliffhanger ending.

Still, something is to be said for the fact that I want to know what happened to the characters. Perhaps I’ll find out in a made-for-TV movie.

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