Ira Wagler was born into an Old Order Amish community. At the age of 17, he packed a bag and left his home in Iowa. Yet something—the yearning for belonging—brought him back. He kept struggling with the regulations imposed by the Church, and he left and returned numerous times. Finally, nearly 10 years later, he left the Amish Church for good. Growing Up Amish chronicles Ira's journey.
My take: After reading countless Amish romances, I was longing for something real—something that didn't idealize the Amish lifestyle but told it like it was. Growing Up Amish is one such book. In telling his story, Wagler shows the many aspects of the Amish—the good (the emphasis on family and the value of community), the absurd (any married man could be chosen as a preacher—whether or not he had the desire or calling to undertake that role), and the unbiblical (Wagler was taught and believed without question that any Amish person who left the church would be condemned to Hell). In the process, Wagler traces his own journey of faith.
This book is a New York Times bestseller, and it's easy to see why. Wagler's writing is at turns humorous, heartbreaking, and inspiring, giving a glimpse into a people that we Englisch find so fascinating. I give it 5 out of 5 stars.
Note: The Kindle version of Growing Up Amish is $3.99 during March 2012. Get it here!
About the author: Ira Wagler was born in the small Old Order Amish community of Aylmer, Ontario. At 17, frustrated by the rules and restrictions of Amish life, Ira got up at 2 am, left a note under his pillow, packed his duffel bag and left. Over the course of the next 5 years, Ira would leave and return home numerous times, torn between the ingrained message that abandoning one's Amish heritage results in eternal damnation, and the freedom and possibilities offered by the "English" world. Upon becoming a Christian at age 26, Ira left the Amish for good. He is currently general manager of Graber Supply, LLC and Pole Building Co. in Lancaster County, PA.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free for review from Tyndale House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
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