Growing Up Amish

Growing Up Amish by Ira Wagler

Tyndale House Publishers- July 2011

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Rating: Definitely glad I read it!

Recommendation: if you don’t like memoirs, I would still say give this book a chance. If you have ever questioned your faith or lost your way, then this book is a must read.

                Ira grew up Amish; it was more than a culture or a way of life. It was more than a religion or idea, it was his blood. But as he grew up, he felt a craving for something more, something deeper. This stirring inside of him was the catalyst for him walking away and leaving everything he knew. The same stirring; same search for something he couldn’t name called him home once more. This is the story of his journey, of his tug-of-war with faith and doubt. It’s more than that though. It’s the story of how a lost person can be found, especially when they come out of hiding.

                I normally don’t read memoirs. People often believe that their life is much more interesting than it really is. So why did I choose to review this book? I wanted to learn more about the Amish, what it means and feels like to be Amish. Research only provides dry and detached facts.  Wagler’s life has not been full of nail-biting adventure; in fact it’s really not any more interesting or different than most people’s lives are. But his story is compelling and his telling of it is shrouded with emotion that instantly connects to the reader. What is magnificent about this book is that it feels as if I am sitting and listening to an old friend telling me his life story. And that makes it important to me. I don’t know Wagler but yet, I have read personal and intimate details about his life. The kind of naked honesty he shares is not only rare, it’s frightening and honorable.

At first I thought that this would be a modern day re-telling of the prodigal son. I guess in a non-traditional way it could be. But his story also leaves me with questions. What would it have meant to Wagler if life did not go on as usual when left the community the first time? What would have changed if his return to the community, to the safety of the fold, was met with incomprehensible celebration instead of wagging tongues and clucking disdain? Would that have been reason enough to stay? Really, I don’t think the decision was never about staying or leaving, he was a man who felt lost all the way to the core of him and he was desperate to be found. The tension that comes from doubting his faith, from not really knowing if he had faith is palpable and bleeds onto the page. It’s a heart-wrenching, revealing and thoroughly enjoyable read.

Always Shine,

Starr K.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from Tyndale House for the purposes of reviewing. I am not obligated to give a positive review, 


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