Hickman explores the question of how deeply personal beliefs should be subordinated in the name of fitting into a religious community, in a tightly woven coming-of-age story based on an 1910 incident involving a group of Shakers near Lebanon, Ohio. After the death of his wife, Susannah's father desperately seeks stability and security. He joins a small band of Shakers whose emphasis on communal values rather than the bond between parent and child dismays Susannah. While living under the constant surveillance of the irascible Sister Olive Gatewood, Susannah befriends Mary, a small child whose mother has left the Believers, as they are called, and is now desperate to get her daughter back. Faced with the momentous choice of whether to embrace her freedom when it is offered or to remain as Mary's protector, Susannah makes a decision that affects the rest of her life. A worthy successor to Hickman's Jericho (1994), this is a thoughtful look at a piece of religious history and is a good choice for readers interested in the Shakers.