Making the Grades
Syndicated columnist Sarah Cain (Lisa Pepper) is having a rough time at work. Her boss (Elliott Gould) has pulled her copy from the paper, claiming she hasn't written anything worth printing in months. Yet he's happy to fill her spot with fluffy celebrity gossip pieces from a sexy co-worker (Jennifer O'Dell). Meanwhile, her boyfriend Bryan (Tom Tate) is too busy being sentimental to be appropriately sympathetic. However, her plea for a pity party comes to an abrupt end when she receives an unexpected phone call from across the continent.
On the other end of the telephone line is an Amish girl named Lyddie (Abigail Mason) with the message that her mother, Sarah's estranged sister, has passed away. Despite the physical and emotional distance between them the harried businesswoman scrambles to get from Portland to Pennsylvania in time for the funeral.
Once there, Sarah discovers her widowed sister left behind five children, but no will. By law, that makes the single city-dweller the guardian of the youngsters. The situation is just as shocking to Sarah as it is to the adult members of the Amish community. Presented with the choices of moving into Lancaster County and assuming parental duties (which means sacrificing her own life and career) or waiving her rights (which means the state will separate the siblings and place them in foster care), Sarah comes up with her own solution. Hoping to have the best of both options, she agrees to accept the responsibility (thus keeping the family together), but moving them all to Portland (so she can return to her job).
The decision is not without an ulterior motive. The idea of a 21st century woman raising 19th century kids in a modern metropolis appeals to her editor, who is convinced this is just the inspiration Sarah needs to rejuvenate her writing. And he proves to be right. As Sarah chronicles the challenges of her nieces and nephews adapting to a strange new world, her readership takes off. There is only one problem with her success. Sarah hasn't told the children that she is publishing their story.
While it at first appears the Amish youngsters will face the biggest changes, in reality it is cynical Sarah who is about to have a life-altering experience. Her journey from self-centeredness to an awareness of the needs of others unfolds in a tender, heartwarming way.
Although the children do experience some moments of mild peril, teasing by school peers and verbal intimidation from a cigarette-smoking hoodlum, they are determined to maintain their religion and culture. And despite their antiquated clothes, their desires to find friends and fit in are plights that will draw universal empathy.
Based on a novel by Beverly Lewis, Saving Sarah Cain places great value on faith and prayer without being preachy. It also beautifully illustrates the importance of respecting others, the strength of family bonds and the redemptive power of love.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Saving Sarah Cain.
Sarah Cain claims, “Being a writer is everything I am.” How does this belief affect the choices she makes? What are the dangers of pinning a person’s self-worth on only one aspect of an individual’s life?
What challenges do the children face as they try to adjust to living in a modern city? Why do they have so many people problems? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each of the lifestyles shown?