One starless night after 17-year-old Ira Wagler awoke at two AM, he left a scribbled note beneath his pillow and packing all of his belongings into a little black duffel bag, walked away from his home in the Amish settlement of Bloomfield, Iowa. In this memoir Ira paints in vivid detail a portrait of Amish life: from his childhood days on the farm, to his Rumspringa rite of passage at age 16, to his decision to leave the Amish church for good at the age of 26. “Growing Up Amish” is a true story of one man's quest to discover who he is and where he belongs.
The Amish are very intriguing as it seems that there is always so much more to learn about them, which creates a great deal of natural curiosity toward them. The whole Amish faith is a little confusing to the average person, so it’s nice to have a real account of life from an Amish person’s perspective and what it’s like to come to the decision to become an “English” person, as they say (the Amish call people by the language they speak - most Amish people speak Pennsylvania Dutch or German. It’s not common for them to speak English, though they know it.) No matter what you read, it seems as if there are some gaps in the logic they often use. But it’s still good to research and since there’s not much of a chance to talk to Amish people it’s great to have a memoir by a former member of their community.
I enjoyed reading this, though most of it still is confusing to me personally. It seems that there is no end of things to learn about their culture. And the show “Breaking Amish” on TLC kind of brings that to the forefront of people’s minds now, while watching these people who were so repressed that they just had to break out of the mold. I'm not really sure what the real story is, but only they can know for sure, and it’s different in every Amish community. But it’s nice to have a glimpse of it even if that is not the life I would choose for myself. This book is available now from Tyndale Publishing. Check it out!