Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Local News

October 19, 2013

Elkhart County native centers new book in Middlebury

GOSHEN — Two Middlebury teenagers who have spent their short lifetimes loving each other face death, heartache and obedience to God in the first book by Concord High School graduate Lisabeth Posthuma.

“Songs Eight Six,” a new adult novel, has a distinctly Elkhart County feel, because after all authors write what they know, Posthuma said. But it took moving away from Elkhart County to a suburb of Detroit for Posthuma to appreciate the area she grew up and taught high school in.

“If I had never left here, I wouldn’t have been able to write about here,” she said. “I wouldn’t have had that perspective or the distance to see it, because I would still be living it.”

Some places, people and businesses might be very familiar to readers: Goshen, Fort Wayne, Rulli’s Restaurant, Maplecrest (although a psychiatric hospital in Fort Wayne and not the Goshen country club), Stephenson’s, Amish culture, the Essenhaus and more.

Posthuma explained that when she settled upon Middlebury/Elkhart County for her setting, she had recently seen a documentary, “Twilight in Forks.” The documentary was about the small town of Forks, Wash., and the impact the “Twilight” series by Stephenie Meyer had on the local economy.

In the back of her mind, Posthuma thought, if her book was a success maybe it would do the same for Elkhart County, which was suffering greatly from the recession. “Not that this is Twilight scale novel — but you’re dreaming, right?” she said. “And I love my hometown.”

So in November 2011, Posthuma started crafting the tale of Cosette and Westley — and Micah. For the next 18 months, the married mother of two immersed herself into the world she was creating. At the time, her children were both younger than 4. Her husband, Jonathan Conger, was — and is — completely supportive, sometimes taking the children to the zoo and giving her the space she needed to work.

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Three Goshen elementary schools — Chandler, Chamberlain and West Goshen — are providing free meals to all students during the school year as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Provision of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Nearly 80 percent of students at Chandler, 89 percent of students at Chamberlain and 78 percent of students at West Goshen already qualify for free or reduced-price lunches based on their family income. How do you feel about the new lunch program?

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