Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Growing up Amish by Ida Wagler

Maybe it's because I grew up without religion, but I've always been fascinated by very religious communities.  I went through a phase where I read lots about Orthodox Judaism and Sharia law in Islam.  I just couldn't imagine living in the kind of society where religion makes the rules as in my own life religion has no role or influence at all.  I didn't know much about the Amish community, so jumped at the chance to receive a review copy of Growing Up Amish.

Synopsis: This biography tells the story of Wagler's Amish upbringing and his struggle between the comfort of his traditional life on one hand and the freedom of the outside world in the other hand.

This memoir was an enjoyable read and was pacy enough to keep the pages turning quickly (I finished it in two sittings).  Wagler's life was covered in chronological order and I particularly enjoyed the sections about his childhood.  As a primary school teacher who often bemoans the amount of gadgets children have and how they don't 'play' anymore, Wagler's childhood seemed idealistic.  And it also contrasted effectively with later sections in which he was more tormented.

These later sections really got across the point that it was impossible for Wagler to be happy anywhere.  When inside the Amish community he strained against the restrictions but when outside he was tormented by the certainty that turning his back on the Amish church would lead to him going to hell.  That part was hard for me to relate to as a non-religious person (as was the very end of the book), but imagining what having that certainty would do to your mind and self-esteem was powerful enough. 

I did enjoy learning about the Amish way of life and differences between the various Amish communities.  My only criticism was that I wanted a bit more of that, and thought that the book could have taken the exra length.

Score: 3.5 out of 5
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers (many thanks for the review copy)
Publication Date: 1st July 2011


  1. This sounds interesting, not just for me but for my mom. I'm always looking for books I can recommend to her.

  2. Sound interesting. I usually get to visit the PA Amish once/twice/thrice a year and I always come out with much respect and a bit of jealousy for their way of life.

    We have a lot to learn from them.

  3. This is on my TBR list. I've never read much about the Amish, but their lifestyle is very interesting and I would like to learn more about why they feel it is so important to cut themselves off from everyone and everything modern. Great review!

  4. i love memoirs and this is an interesting review.
    i love your new blog design Sam, its new right?

  5. Susan, Man of La Book, Kate - hope you do read and enjoy the book. I agree that we could learn a lot from Amish culture.

    Vithya - my design is new-ish. Glad you like it :)