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From Barnes & NobleReaders are fascinated with like-minded believers who inhabit a rural landscape, freely sharing their possessions. A recent search of "Amish and Mennonite fiction" yielded nearly a thousand results. Kirkby was raised a Hutterite, yet her experience was demonstrably different from what Kelly McGillis portrays in the film Witness.
Forty thousand Hutterites currently dwell in the Canadian prairies and their neighboring American states. But other than traveling to nearby towns for provisions, they live a sequestered life in an agrarian community with a communal kitchen. Hutterites were the first to form kindergartens — their sect mandates that children are raised communally — and a mother of several children preparing for a new arrival may send one of her own to live with another family to lessen the burden.
Kirkby's childhood in the colony was idyllic. She looked forward to the daily and seasonal rituals and the chores associated with them. It was the only life she knew until, after a dispute, her father made the painful decision to uproot the family and leave when she was ten years old. Adapting to modernity was difficult. "We didn't know how to swim or skate or ride a bicycle," she recalls. "We had never tasted pizza." As Kirkby becomes a teenager, her assimilation grows easier. But as an adult, her quest to find her place in the world led her to write this book, a fascinating exploration into a world seemingly shut to modern eyes.