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Crossing Over: One Woman's Escape from Amish Life

Crossing Over: One Woman's Escape from Amish Life

3.6 13
by Ruth Irene Garrett, Rick Farrant

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A work Booklist called loving and life–affirming, Crossing Over is the true story of one woman's extraordinary flight from the protected world of the Amish people to the chaos of contemporary life.

Ruth Irene Garrett was the fifth of seven children raised in Kalona, Iowa, as a member of a strict Old Order Amish community. She was brought up in a


A work Booklist called loving and life–affirming, Crossing Over is the true story of one woman's extraordinary flight from the protected world of the Amish people to the chaos of contemporary life.

Ruth Irene Garrett was the fifth of seven children raised in Kalona, Iowa, as a member of a strict Old Order Amish community. She was brought up in a world filled with rigid rules and intense secrecy, in an environment where the dress, buggies, codes of conduct, and way of life differed even from other Amish societies only 100 miles away. This Old Order community actively avoided all interaction with the English and everyone who lived on the outside. As a result, Ruth knew only one way of life, and one way of doing things.

This compelling narrative takes us inside a hidden community, offering a striking look as one woman comes to terms with her discontent and ultimately leaves her family, faith and the sheltered world of her childhood. Unsatisfied, she bravely crosses over to contemporary life to fully explore the foreign and frightening reality in hope of better understanding her emotional and spiritual desires. What emerges is a powerful tale of one woman's search for meaning and the extraordinary lessons she learns along the way.

Editorial Reviews

Joseph Girzone
“A beautiful story of a young lady’s struggle to be free.”
Kirkus Reviews
A young woman who ran away from her Old Order family to marry the man she loved critiques the customs, beliefs, and childrearing practices of this ultra-strict Amish group. Raised on a farm in Iowa, Garrett briefly describes the history of the Amish and their way of life before relating how in 1996 she eloped with Ottie Garrrett and moved to Kentucky. The Old Order Amish, who fled religious persecution in Germany in the 18th century, do not own cars or use telephones or electricity. The women must wear long, dark dresses held together by pins (buttons are considered a sign of vanity) and cover their heads at all times. Education ends in the eighth grade; the children then work on the family farms. The religion preaches rigid adherence to the Bible (men are the head of the house, children must obey their parents) and punishes transgressors by shunning or excommunication. The fifth of seven children, 15-year-old Ruth met much older Ottie in 1989, when he came into town for a visit. Her grandfather asked the visitor to chauffeur the local Amish, who did not drive themselves but did take automobile trips to see families and sights. Recently graduated from school and determined not to marry an Amish man�she saw her father�s dictatorial treatment of her mother as typical�the young girl was soon attracted to Ottie. The feeling was mutual, and they married in defiance of her family and the community, which called all outsiders "the English" and regarded them as depraved. Garrett describes her family�s hurtful reactions and her halting adjustment to the outside world: she bought dresses without trying them on because she did not know that stores provided fitting rooms. Excommunicated by the Amish,she found in the local Lutheran church a warm welcome and a loving God. Simply told, more in sorrow than in anger: a personal chronicle of the darker side of faith and family. Film rights to CBS

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HarperCollins Publishers
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5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.46(d)

What People are Saying About This

Joseph Girzone
“A beautiful story of a young lady’s struggle to be free.”

Meet the Author

Ruth Irene Garrett left the Amish faith in 1996 and was ultimately excommunicated. She currently lives with her husband, Ottie, in Kentucky where they devote their time to helping Amish families who have left their communities.

Rick Farrant is an award-winning journalist and an editor at the Fort-Wayne Journal Gazette.

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Crossing Over: One Woman's Escape from Amish Life 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
While this may be an enjoyable book, I would caution readers that the author's tale is no more or less reflective of the Amish culture than any book by any 'English' author would be reflective of our culture as a whole. It would be a mistake to form or change one's opinion of the Amish based on this book alone. I live among and work with the Amish on a daily basis, in the largest Amish settlement in the world (Holmes County, Ohio), and I have a real problem when people lump the Amish all in one basket -- particularly where something unflattering such as abuse is concerned. There are dozens of different Amish sects, all of which set their own rules for many of the particulars of their lifestyle. So, please do not try to understand or criticize an entire culture based on a limited view of ONE sect. Those reviewers who look upon the husband with scorn for selling photos of the Amish are doing him a disservice. While his methods may be somewhat questionable, the Amish very much understand the outside world's curiosity with them, and do not -- on the whole -- object to photography. Again, each district, or sect, may have different attitudes and practices. I am an author and publisher, and I do photograph the Amish. The rule I follow is that I do not publish photos of adults whose face is recognizable. I also do not 'ambush' my subjects. The Amish are Annabaptists, which means they practice adult baptism. As such, they do not (as a whole) object to photographs of children. Some do not even object to adults being photographed, but they will not pose. I have given or sold numerous copies of my books of Amish photographs to Amish people and they are very happy to have them. One young girl whose photo I featured managed to track me down and ask me if she could have a copy of the book. I happily gave her a copy. So...read 'Crossing Over' and enjoy it for what it is: ONE person's story about HER (abusive) familial experiences in ONE sect of a large American subculture.
Guest More than 1 year ago
While peeking into the forbidden is always titillating, 'Crossing Over' is little more than an outline of Amish life and customs with little insight how they play out when Amish culture converges with 'English', the term used by Amish to describe anyone not of their sect. Ruth Irene Garrett, a teenager increasingly fretful over the place of women in Amish society, is also distraught about her own family's domination and maltreatment by her preacher father. She points to the hypocracies in the religion: while telephones are not used 'officially' by the sect, they are placed strategically in barns where they can be accessed surriptitiously; the Amish employ drivers to take them on holidays and to visit friends, yet consider it unholy to drive themselves. She also points to the brutality of her father which, in the 'English' world, would be seen as domestic violence and child abuse. Ruth Irene Garrett chose to flee the Amish confines of her life with the first available man, Ottie, the community cab driver, who was more than twice her age, divorced several times, grossly obese and of more than questionable ethics -- he photographed the Amish (who believe photos of themsmelves to be graven images and morally wrong)and made a living selling the pictures. Interested more in justifying her premarital sex, subsequent marriage and refusal to return home through Biblical passages and quotes from family letters, Ruth Irene Garrett does not engage in any thoughtful speculation of how Amish and 'English' culture can be more understanding and accommodating of the other, or how the Amish community could better handle matters of family violence. This is a lightweight book, obviously ghost-written, a pure narrative with no insight or depth of meaning. It brings the reader nothing more than a shallow glimpse into a complex society, and offers no understanding of its interface with the 'English' world.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Reading this book is like looking into a person's bathroom cabinet-- a lot of us do it even though we'd NEVER want to be caught. Simply written, possibly to appeal to any reader, the prose is a quick read-- as would any text written at this level. So should this story of 'escape' have been told? Sure! We all want to know what REALLY goes on behind those bonnets and straw hats. And HOW do buggies continue to be the chosen transport for this religious throw-backs of passivism? Well, some of these questions are explored, but by and large, 'Crossing Over' is the tale of a malcontent teenager who finds herself an outsider, who is twice divorced and more than twice her age, with several ex-wives and kids under his massive belt! If I were her parents, I would also have had serious misgivngs about this Ottie character, who makes a living driving for the Amish and secretly selling Amish photos he has taken without permission. This, after getting their TRUST to be in that position within the Amish community! Need I say more? Read this book if you must-- although I am with her Amish parents on this one. Ruth did not escape-- she rode off in an Amish-paid van to a much darker, albeit comfortable, life.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I so thoroughly enjoyed this book that I devoured it in one sitting. I'm familiar with various Amish in PA, IN and MI, having consigned carts, harnesses and repair work from them for my own horses, and was aware that, as reviewer JK stated so well, you can no more lump the entire Amish faction together than you can the English in re their personal philosophies and practices. To me, Crossing Over is a love story above all else - the author's love for her husband, his love for her, his family's love and acceptance of her, ditto for his church, and her continued love for her family and Amish community despite their seemingly insane - certainly to me, as an atheist - interpretations of her actions and relentless attempts to coax her home. All in all, this is a worthwhile read and I recommend it to anyone with an interest in the Amish.
KLJ25 More than 1 year ago
150 pages. It was written in more a documentary style vs. a novel or in-depth study. It is one woman's experience of growing up in the Old Order Amish (very strict) with an abusive father & loving but passive mother, then leaving with an much older man (who she marries) as a young adult. Pros: I read it quickly; it was interesting story of one woman; the letters from family members at the beginning of chapters were really insightful. Cons: nothing was really explained in depth; she is very sheltered & leaves with her lover without thinking of how they will support themselves.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She really bashes the Amish a good bit. Not well put together. Read "growing up amish" if u would like a good book about amish life and leaving.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found the book informative, enlightning, educational and easy to read. Ruth Irene Garrett made a choice in her life of which I'm not so sure many of us 'outsiders' can truly understand and yet she had the strength and the fortitude to overcome many obstacles. I recently had the privilege of hearing Mrs. Garrett give a presentation on Amish life and her life in the Amish community. She was wonderful, and at no time did she bash or insult the Amish. As a matter of fact she was very respectful of her Amish heritage. I also had the pleasure of meeting her husband, Ottie. He seemed to be very supportive of his wife and tried to stay out of the lime light as it was. I don't believe Ruth Irene is 'Exploiting the Amish,' but is telling of her life in the Amish world. Who better to tell it than Ruth Irene Garrett?
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought it was a good book and I was surprised how the Amish lived so different then I thought. It was a book that held my attention and I read it quickly.
Guest More than 1 year ago
After reading this book, I now view the Amish in a totally different way. Their lifestyle isn't at all what I thought it was. I give the author credit for wanting to live life her way, and for being strong enough to break free from her Amish community.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My name is Hannah and I am a 15 year old student in minnesota. At my school we do project based learning which means each of us have to do a project for each quarter. This quarter my project is on the Amish. I am quite interested in the Amish and how they live the way they do. I came across this title while searching for books on barnesandnoble.com . This book has come in handy so far. I have yet to finish it but I only started it a few days ago. It has helped me understand things and find out things that I couldn't find on the internet. I would encourage anybody that wants to learn about the Amish to read this book.