Friday, October 21, 2011

Book Review: Growing up Amish

Growing up Amish, a memoir by Ira Wagler

One clear night at age 17, Ira Wagler packs a bag and leaves his Old Order Amish settlement to strike out in the "English" world.  In this memoir, Ira paints a vivid picture of life growing up as an Amish boy and as an Amish man.  The book chronicles Ira's decade long confusion as to whether to remain Amish or leave the church.  It culminates in his ultimate decision at age 26 to leave the order for good.

My Thoughts:

The description of this book just fascinated me.  Amish life is very much idealized in modern-day literature and film.  To find out from someone in that community what life is really like is like seeing into someone's secret hideaway.  Ira's down-to-earth writing reveals that Amish life is not always peaceful and serene.  Not everyone in that world is content with their lot in life.  In fact, in these memoirs, Ira is anything but content.  He struggles with the guilt of not continuing the Amish life as well as not really knowing how to live outside of the Amish community.

The writing is so real and in your face that you feel as if you are there in the situation.  It has almost a raw quality to it that just draws out the emotion of the author and lets the reader feel what he is feeling.  As a reader, your heart just breaks during Ira's struggles.  You want him to overcome, whether it's in finally embracing the Amish church or whether it's learning to live outside of it.  You just want him to succeed in life.  But then you realize that this is someone's real life and not a novel.  Heartaches happen, confusion happens.  But after 10 years of living between two worlds, clarity happens and Ira chooses his path.

I thought this was an excellent book.  It was well-written and engaging.  I would like to know what happened to Ira after the end of the book.  I feel like I need to know that he went on be happy, that he realized he made the right choice.  So, Ira, if you ever read this, feel free to comment and let us know that you are happy.

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

I received a complementary Kindle version of this book for review by NetGalley.


  1. You sold me. I KNOW I would enjoy this very, very much. Thanks!

  2. This book is an honest view into Amish life. We "English" really don't understand the lifestyle but Growing Up Amish gives us a hint in to their world.


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