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Growing Up Amish: A Memoir

Average Rating 3.5
( 83 )
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5 Star

(24)

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(33)

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(13)

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(4)

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(9)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

20 out of 21 people found this review helpful.

Amish Must Read

I have always loved reading and hearing about the Amish life. There are several reasons for this. I grew upon a farm in Indiana. My parents became Christians when I was five. With no one to guide her in her walk, my mother decided it was better to err on God's side....
I have always loved reading and hearing about the Amish life. There are several reasons for this. I grew upon a farm in Indiana. My parents became Christians when I was five. With no one to guide her in her walk, my mother decided it was better to err on God's side. Board games, dancing of any kind, and most television shows became off limits or a sin. My books and comic books were scrutinized. My mom's first question whenever I told her about a new friend was, "Are they a Christian?" I had few friends growing up because they did not fit into my mom's "category" of what a Christian was. I worked on the farm just as the Amish do. When we moved to Florida I learned that what we called a garden the people down here called a truck patch or small farm. I learned how to can and freeze fruits and vegetables. We smoked our own meat. In the winter we filled a concrete tub in our 'milk house' up with snow and put perishables in it. It was a tough life yet one I miss.

It may be these memories that have always drawn me to Amish fiction. I can see so many parallels. I was thrilled to read Ira Wagler's book Growing Up Amish. In this book we get a look at the "real" Amish. Not the ones so often written about in romance novels, which make the Amish come across as a people who do, or think no wrong. We find a man who has struggled to find where he truly belongs. He wanted to be a part of the Amish world he was born into, yet felt it was not for him. At age 17 he left his Amish home in Iowa. He later returns, and must admit all of his sins to the congregation before he is allowed to join the church. He tries, but still doesn't seem to feel as if he is where he should be. I can only imagine how difficult it must have been to once again make a decision to leave his Amish life. He subjected himself to this pain many times before leaving for good.

The pain of being shunned by everyone you know is hard enough. Their belief is if you left the church then your soul was headed for damnation. I was happy to learn that Ira finally asked God about his situation and got an answer. He found salvation outside of his Amish culture. Unfortunately it is not only the Amish that are like this. We see this in many denominations. They become so legalistic that it seems they forget what Jesus was all about. I thank God each and every day that his love for us is not based on a set of laws. We see where that got people in the old testament.

This book is a great look at the Amish. However, I believe the message I it is clear. We all need to take a look at our lives and ask if we are where God wants us. If not then maybe we need to talk with him to find out where he wants us to be. I do find it funny when I think about how they try to separate themselves from the English. When we get to heaven Go is not going to separate us, say, "You Baptist over there and You Amish over here. We who have found salvation through Jesus blood are all God's children and he has prepared a home for us in heaven, together.

This is a must read book for anyone who enjoys learning about the Amish.

posted by skstiles612 on September 4, 2011

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Most Helpful Critical Review

5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

Interesting but a bit anti-climactic

I purchased this book and tore through it with great interest. It was an honest, open and heart felt account of the author's intense personal struggle of choosing one way of life over another. I empathized with him throughout the book and found myself far from envious...
I purchased this book and tore through it with great interest. It was an honest, open and heart felt account of the author's intense personal struggle of choosing one way of life over another. I empathized with him throughout the book and found myself far from envious of his predicament of having to choose between personal freedom to live his life as he chooses in the modern world, with all of it's excitement, danger and opportunity or the security of family and a faith tradition that was stable but contrary to what his heart told him was best for him. The reason I give it three stars is that unless I missed an important detail, I found it anti-climactic in the sense that there was no mention of what his relationship with his Amish family is now, which leaves the reader wondering if he's been all together shunned or if there is nominal familial contact (though there were hints in the book that make me tend to believe it's the latter). Enjoyable and insightful all the same and I definitely recommend it.

posted by TimInBrooklyn on August 12, 2011

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  • Posted August 12, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Interesting but a bit anti-climactic

    I purchased this book and tore through it with great interest. It was an honest, open and heart felt account of the author's intense personal struggle of choosing one way of life over another. I empathized with him throughout the book and found myself far from envious of his predicament of having to choose between personal freedom to live his life as he chooses in the modern world, with all of it's excitement, danger and opportunity or the security of family and a faith tradition that was stable but contrary to what his heart told him was best for him. The reason I give it three stars is that unless I missed an important detail, I found it anti-climactic in the sense that there was no mention of what his relationship with his Amish family is now, which leaves the reader wondering if he's been all together shunned or if there is nominal familial contact (though there were hints in the book that make me tend to believe it's the latter). Enjoyable and insightful all the same and I definitely recommend it.

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2013

    Insightful

    Message if hope can be found in the midst of the despair

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  • Posted September 9, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    An interesting read.

    Always enjoy reading and learning about the Amish. This got a little slow since this young man went down the same path many times. I was surprised that the elders kept giving him another chance. But still I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to others who have an interest in reading about the Amish. I was initially drawn to the book because of his Iowa ties as I have lived in Iowa all my life.

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  • Posted August 20, 2011

    Good but not what i expected

    I thought this would give more insite into Amish life but it just recycles the same story of leaving and returning to Amish church. I enjoyed it for what it is and will recommend to friends and family though.

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  • Posted August 10, 2011

    the long and winding road...

    evocative of aspects of my own family history, i took great interest in Ira's faith and life journey. a memoir of many insights into Amish life, leadership, family, activities, worship. controversial, i'm sure, to those of the Amish communities, but the insider's view that answers many of the questions outsiders want to ask. it left me wanting to know more...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2011

    True to Life

    Through his retelling of his early childhood Ira Wagler impresses on the reader the great importance of the family and church life in forming the belief system of the Amish youth. However, when he reached the age of seventeen, Ira began his public ten-year struggle of whether to remain with the Amish religion or whether to seek a relationship with God through another religion. His decisions during this time led to many hardships. These decisions were made knowing he could not avoid the consequences - either positive or negative. Wagler shows in this autobiographical book the impact the Amish community exerts on all aspects of one's life.

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  • Posted July 19, 2011

    did learn more about amish than I already know!

    The book told of a young mans journey growing up amish and leaving the church many times. However, as he seemed to never connect to his family or friends in any way he also fails to connect to the readers as well. You never get a true look inside to daily life and what it is that led him to want to leave. Without these explanation he simply seemed like another whiny teenager who thinks he knows it all.

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