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Ira Wagler was born in 1961, the ninth of a Canadian Amish couple's eleven children. At seventeen, in the dark of night, he left the religious settlement, but it was only nine years later that he finally left the church for good. His favorite Bible verse is from Psalm 34: "Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." In this new memoir, he Ira Wagler was born in 1961, the ninth of a Canadian Amish couple's eleven children. At seventeen, in the dark of night, he left the religious settlement, but it was only nine years later that he finally left the church for good. His favorite Bible verse is from Psalm 34: "Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." In this new memoir, he tells what it was like growing up Old World Amish and what it felt like leaving it for a strange new world. Far more than picturesque; Growing Up Amish conveys one man's heartfelt experience.


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Ira Wagler was born in 1961, the ninth of a Canadian Amish couple's eleven children. At seventeen, in the dark of night, he left the religious settlement, but it was only nine years later that he finally left the church for good. His favorite Bible verse is from Psalm 34: "Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." In this new memoir, he Ira Wagler was born in 1961, the ninth of a Canadian Amish couple's eleven children. At seventeen, in the dark of night, he left the religious settlement, but it was only nine years later that he finally left the church for good. His favorite Bible verse is from Psalm 34: "Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." In this new memoir, he tells what it was like growing up Old World Amish and what it felt like leaving it for a strange new world. Far more than picturesque; Growing Up Amish conveys one man's heartfelt experience.

30 review for Growing Up Amish

  1. 4 out of 5

    Miranda Reads

    Even among the Amish, other Amish seem odd. Canadian Ira Wagler, is the ninth of eleven Amish children. Amish, for the unfamiliar, are a group of traditionalist Christians who are well-known for their simple, plain living style. Depending on their individual communities - some swear off all technology while others have strict rules for how and when it can be applied. Throughout his childhood and early adulthood, he alternated between loving his family and lifestyle and wishing for something mo Even among the Amish, other Amish seem odd. Canadian Ira Wagler, is the ninth of eleven Amish children. Amish, for the unfamiliar, are a group of traditionalist Christians who are well-known for their simple, plain living style. Depending on their individual communities - some swear off all technology while others have strict rules for how and when it can be applied. Throughout his childhood and early adulthood, he alternated between loving his family and lifestyle and wishing for something more. As I would come to discover later in life, one shouldn't be condemned for simply craving freedom. When Ira turns seventeen, he steals away in the middle of the night as the first of several times he tries to leave the community. He eventually returns out of loneliness and heartbreak, but soon is itching to leave again. The box of Amish life and culture might provide some protection, but it could never bring salvation. He grapples most fervently with his faith - ranging from does he believe to how he should believe - and each time he winds back to the Amish lifestyle...that is, until he makes one final leap. By quietly showing me Christ’s love, my friend had led me to the Source of that love...I was amazed at how simple it was. Why had it all seemed so hard, so impossible before? So. I enjoyed this book HOWEVER it also feels like a book where a lot is said but not much accomplished. The book begins with a few childhood tales - explaining how Ira grew up and a few staples in the Canadian-Amish community (such as school, chores, etc) BUT UNLIKE THE TITLE IMPLIES - this book really doesn't focus on an Amish childhood. It's more centered on Ira's push-and-pull between his innate desire for freedom and the stifling Amish lifestyle starting at seventeen and continuing for several years. The author writes for someone who is already somewhat familiar with his lifestyle, so there isn't much (if any) focus on the Amish lifestyle past his mid-teens, only vague mentions of buggies and horses (AGAIN - NOT WHAT THE TITLE IMPLIED AT ALL). Anyway, when Ira Wagler turns seventeen and he sneaks out in the middle of the night...only to return after a few months of playing cowboy to his loving family. Then he leaves (again), comes back (again), this time officially becoming part of the church. Leaves (again) (is excommunicated)... comes back (again)(re-communicated (very difficult)). Finds Jesus and leaves (again)(does not come back). So, as you can see, his coming and going fills up pretty much the entire book...but for the life of me, I don't know why - as in why is he so consumed with this! Now he does give some (vague) explanation. Ira in his younger years found it hard to believe in God and that life with the Amish was too restrictive (for why he leaves) (BUT WHY was it TOO restrictive??). But he always returned because he couldn't abandon his family so entirely and he struggled with his Amish-identity...but that is literally all. There wasn't any more than I described for you...which made it difficult for me (as an outsider) to understand the depth of his emotions and reasons. I'm not condoning - or bemoaning - what we did. It's just the way it was. And history is not undone just because one pretends it didn't happen or destroys the evidence. I felt that the author needed to open up and explain his motivations, rather than broadstrokes view of his doubt and his leaving and going because from my standpoint - I just didn't get it. And then there was the repetition - Ira leaves the Amish community four times. The constant back-and-forth actually made me feel lost halfway through the book - especially considering how similar each situation felt to the reader. I feel like this book had SO much potential but it just didn't follow through in the way I had hoped. Also - yes - I am STILL bitter with HOW LITTLE THE TITLE MATCHED!! Audiobook Comments Read by Adam Verner and he did a rather good job. The actual audio was rather well done. YouTube | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Snapchat @miranda_reads

  2. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    I was hoping for a bigger picture of Amish life than what I got. What I got instead was the author's biased opinion and feelings about his Amish faith and community. The beginning of the book deals with the author's upbringing and what the culture is like, which is very interesting. However, this is not dealt with deeply; instead, the author expresses his doubts about the Amish religion and his disagreements with it. I personally am not interested in how the Amish religion is *wrong*, I am inter I was hoping for a bigger picture of Amish life than what I got. What I got instead was the author's biased opinion and feelings about his Amish faith and community. The beginning of the book deals with the author's upbringing and what the culture is like, which is very interesting. However, this is not dealt with deeply; instead, the author expresses his doubts about the Amish religion and his disagreements with it. I personally am not interested in how the Amish religion is *wrong*, I am interested in what it *is*, and that is missing from this book. The author leaves his Amish community something like four times, only to return each time (except for the last, when he finally makes up his mind not to come back). Highly irritating, to say the least. I just wanted to shout at him, MAKE UP YOUR MIND! If you want to leave, LEAVE! But alas, at least the last half (or even 3/4?) of the book is made up of his comings and goings. Overall I am not sorry I read this book. It did educate me a bit on Amish life. However, the author's bitterness is super irritating, and I hope to find a different book about Amish life that will give me the true picture. (Suggestions, anyone?)

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jaclyn Day

    I think there’s a lot of curiosity among non-Amish about their religion and day-to-day lives. As Wagler points out, there’s a misguided, yet persistent romantic view of their simple way of life that speaks to us through the rampant materialism, pop culture and technology that we are surrounded by. Logically, we all know that their lives are hard. That living without electricity and doing manual labor all day is not necessarily a life that we would choose to lead. That probably explains, as Wagle I think there’s a lot of curiosity among non-Amish about their religion and day-to-day lives. As Wagler points out, there’s a misguided, yet persistent romantic view of their simple way of life that speaks to us through the rampant materialism, pop culture and technology that we are surrounded by. Logically, we all know that their lives are hard. That living without electricity and doing manual labor all day is not necessarily a life that we would choose to lead. That probably explains, as Wagler points out, why there are very few Amish conversions. It’s a life you are born into and not one easily adopted. Wagler manages to write about his youth and about Amish culture in a respectful way, despite having parted with the church some time ago. You see the remnants of his upbringing in how he addresses certain topics, and you can see how difficult it must be to still have family within the church while he operates on the outside. Writing this book must have been no easy task, yet I think that if his family read it, they would agree that he does them and the Amish religion as a whole no injustice at all. If you ever grew up in a conservative religious community, there is a thread to Wagler’s story that may speak to you as it did to me. The church I was raised in is by no means comparable to an Amish community, but the old familiar push-and-pull (against the rules and back towards them) is there. Wagler, as he grows out of his admittedly idyllic childhood, he realizes that he doesn’t know what’s next for him—or if what is expected of him is what he really wants. He feels lost and tries to remedy the feeling by fleeing his community on several occasions. I won’t spoil the ending, but the circumstances by which he finally left surprised me. I will only say that I didn’t expect him to reach the conclusions he did before finally leaving.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jackie

    I suppose by definition, when you write a memoir you’re assuming that people will be interested in your life. And when I read a memoir, I’m conceding that I am interested in the writer’s life. But this memoir says that in such an egotistical way that I was left wondering who the hell Ira Wagner thinks he is that anyone would read this. First off, the prose is so melodramatic and overreaching that it makes me cringe. It’s so obviously an English 101 writing assignment (or if not literally an assig I suppose by definition, when you write a memoir you’re assuming that people will be interested in your life. And when I read a memoir, I’m conceding that I am interested in the writer’s life. But this memoir says that in such an egotistical way that I was left wondering who the hell Ira Wagner thinks he is that anyone would read this. First off, the prose is so melodramatic and overreaching that it makes me cringe. It’s so obviously an English 101 writing assignment (or if not literally an assignment, the work of someone still learning how to write), complete with clichés, repetitiveness and trying way too hard to sound lyrical. It felt obvious too that he tried way too hard be fair and not to criticize, at the expense of owning his own story and experiences. How many times can you say “I’m not criticizing, just stating the fact. That is just the way it was.” The editor could have cut pages from the book by deleting that useless phrase every time it appeared, along with any and all paragraphs that contain with “I don’t remember…” Secondly, there is something missing. He talks about the stress and struggles of living an Amish life, but doesn’t ever say what is stressful about it. He is quite upset that his neighbors are proudly ignorant; it’s a huge gulf between them and one of the big reasons he doesn’t want to stay Amish, but he never says what topics they’re proudly ignorant on. He goes on and on and on about his fears about all the bad things he’s done, without ever mentioning what those things might be. He left and returned like many of his peer group. He drank and bought a car at a time when he wasn’t a member of the community, like many in his peer group. He disappointed his parents and dumped his girlfriend, like so many teenagers and young adults do in every culture. Yes, these are bad, but they don’t seem as unforgivable as he makes them out, especially because he was forgiven for them. I felt like he must have done bigger stuff he just didn’t bother to describe. Or maybe he just lacks the perspective to see that those things are not that exceptional. Thirdly and I suppose this is a petty criticism, this book has the misfortune of being misnamed. It’s not about Growing Up Amish, it’s about Wagner’s back-and-forth relationship to the Amish culture and eventual apostasy, all of which took place in his teenage and adult life. It doesn’t get at those little curiosities of daily life that entice someone to read a book about growing up in a culture different from our own. Do they have hot water? How do they cook? If electric service is not allowed in the home, is it allowed in other Amish structures, like the schools and businesses? What about natural gas service? How do they do laundry? Do women work outside the home or schools? What are typical meals? I don’t fault the author for not pandering to curiosities; they’re not what his book is about. But they are what the title of his book indicates the book is about and honestly they’d probably have been more interesting. Fourth, there was one passage about his relationship with Sarah that majorly hit a nerve. I won’t begrudge him having a failed relationship. That’s a fact of life. I won’t even begrudge him for getting engaged to a woman he didn’t love. That too seemed part of the culture. But there was one passage where he says something like “We were very compatible. She loved me intensely and would have been a loyal wife. But I didn’t feel anything for her”. Is that you’re idea of compatible? What kind of sexist egomaniac do you have to be to think that that is what “compatible” means? At least he had the sense to leave before he could drag the poor girl into a one-sided marriage, but even then he seems to feel more guilty about the break up than about than about stringing her along for so long. Fifth, what did the Mennonite church offer that the Amish didn't? A little extra undefined "freedom"?

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sandra Stiles

    I have always loved reading and hearing about the Amish life. There are several reasons for this. I grew upon a farm in Indiana. My parents became Christians when I was five. With no one to guide her in her walk, my mother decided it was better to err on God’s side. Board games, dancing of any kind, and most television shows became off limits or a sin. My books and comic books were scrutinized. My mom’s first question whenever I told her about a new friend was, “Are they a Christian?” I had few I have always loved reading and hearing about the Amish life. There are several reasons for this. I grew upon a farm in Indiana. My parents became Christians when I was five. With no one to guide her in her walk, my mother decided it was better to err on God’s side. Board games, dancing of any kind, and most television shows became off limits or a sin. My books and comic books were scrutinized. My mom’s first question whenever I told her about a new friend was, “Are they a Christian?” I had few friends growing up because they did not fit into my mom’s “category” of what a Christian was. I worked on the farm just as the Amish do. When we moved to Florida I learned that what we called a garden the people down here called a truck patch or small farm. I learned how to can and freeze fruits and vegetables. We smoked our own meat. In the winter we filled a concrete tub in our ‘milk house’ up with snow and put perishables in it. It was a tough life yet one I miss. It may be these memories that have always drawn me to Amish fiction. I can see so many parallels. I was thrilled to read Ira Wagler’s book Growing Up Amish. In this book we get a look at the “real” Amish. Not the ones so often written about in romance novels, which make the Amish come across as a people who do, or think no wrong. We find a man who has struggled to find where he truly belongs. He wanted to be a part of the Amish world he was born into, yet felt it was not for him. At age 17 he left his Amish home in Iowa. He later returns, and must admit all of his sins to the congregation before he is allowed to join the church. He tries, but still doesn’t seem to feel as if he is where he should be. I can only imagine how difficult it must have been to once again make a decision to leave his Amish life. He subjected himself to this pain many times before leaving for good. The pain of being shunned by everyone you know is hard enough. Their belief is if you left the church then your soul was headed for damnation. I was happy to learn that Ira finally asked God about his situation and got an answer. He found salvation outside of his Amish culture. Unfortunately it is not only the Amish that are like this. We see this in many denominations. They become so legalistic that it seems they forget what Jesus was all about. I thank God each and every day that his love for us is not based on a set of laws. We see where that got people in the old testament. This book is a great look at the Amish. However, I believe the message I it is clear. We all need to take a look at our lives and ask if we are where God wants us. If not then maybe we need to talk with him to find out where he wants us to be. I do find it funny when I think about how they try to separate themselves from the English. When we get to heaven Go is not going to separate us, say, “You Baptist over there and You Amish over here. We who have found salvation through Jesus blood are all God’s children and he has prepared a home for us in heaven, together. This is a must read book for anyone who enjoys learning about the Amish.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Mercer

    I listen to audible books at work, as well as read traditionally at home. One of my recent Audible purchases was Growing up Amish: A Memoir by Ira Wagler which you can find on Amazon (just click the Amazon banner on the right hand side of my page and give it a click then search the title). In short, I say get a copy of the book, it's well worth the read... and if reading isn't your thing, give the Audible book a go the narrator is great! I've always been curious as to the Amish way of life due to I listen to audible books at work, as well as read traditionally at home. One of my recent Audible purchases was Growing up Amish: A Memoir by Ira Wagler which you can find on Amazon (just click the Amazon banner on the right hand side of my page and give it a click then search the title). In short, I say get a copy of the book, it's well worth the read... and if reading isn't your thing, give the Audible book a go the narrator is great! I've always been curious as to the Amish way of life due to the fact we have a healthy population of them (and other Anabaptist groups) here in Indiana and you'll regularly see them at the Zoo as well as around the towns surrounding Indianapolis. I even buy cheese and apple butter from them regularly but never really talk to them past doing business. This book gave me an adequate look into the Amish way of life. I'll note that the book is not a look at a typical Amish life as Ira was one that moderately questioned the lifestyle and left the community a handful of times (read about that better in the book, I don't want to say why and what not... READ THE BOOK silly people). This however in itself is an interesting thing. You see raw emotion in this book, the good and the bad, the pretty and the ugly, you get to see a boy become a man and question the world he knows. You also see a man who still highly respects his family and the culture he came from, never portraying them in a bad light but simply telling it how it is. My only complaint with the book is it has left me wanting to know more about Ira's post Amish life, although he does have an easily found blog which let me do just that! Check the book out!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Annie

    This was a little bit of a disappointment to me actually. The premiss was interesting enough and it started alright, but I totally skim-read at least the whole last 2 chapters just to get it over with! I mean come on! We get it... it's hard to leave your roots and do something new! I get the message he was trying to convey, but it was literally the last 2 pages where he came to the conclusion of the 200+ pages of a struggling, depressed Amish-man who can't make up his mind! There were some inter This was a little bit of a disappointment to me actually. The premiss was interesting enough and it started alright, but I totally skim-read at least the whole last 2 chapters just to get it over with! I mean come on! We get it... it's hard to leave your roots and do something new! I get the message he was trying to convey, but it was literally the last 2 pages where he came to the conclusion of the 200+ pages of a struggling, depressed Amish-man who can't make up his mind! There were some interesting tidbits about Amish life and some of their traditions (weddings, religious beliefs, child rearing, etc.) but it wasn't enough to recommend this to a friend. Glad I didn't buy this for my Kindle and I can now just return my copy of the book to the library. Sorry, Ira Wagler - I really wanted to like your book and it was a good story, but it lacked form and direction. However, I really appreciate a persons willingness to share their personal life and experiences and it wasn't a complete waste of time, just a slow go.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jean-françois Virey

    "Growing Up Amish" is written in a style I normally avoid, with lots of fragments, i.e. bits of sentences, sometimes even a couple of words, that are gratified with a full stop and, often, a line of their own for more dramatic effect. Had I known it was that kind of book, I might not even have bought it. Or read it. Because I myself never use fragments. Never. Ever. I find them cheap. And low-brow. To be avoided. At all costs. I came to the book with a rather recent but fairly extended knowledge of Am "Growing Up Amish" is written in a style I normally avoid, with lots of fragments, i.e. bits of sentences, sometimes even a couple of words, that are gratified with a full stop and, often, a line of their own for more dramatic effect. Had I known it was that kind of book, I might not even have bought it. Or read it. Because I myself never use fragments. Never. Ever. I find them cheap. And low-brow. To be avoided. At all costs. I came to the book with a rather recent but fairly extended knowledge of Amish culture, so I am mostly glad for the tidbits I learned here and there. As Ira and family move from one Amish community to the other, you get a good sense of how different they are from one another, and how weird they seem to each other, just because they don't exactly cut their beards the same way, or paint their buggies the same colours. After the media expose of the cruelty of Amish puppy mills, the book confirmed in my mind that their culture may lack empathy for animals, as is probably true of any culture in which so many people are directly involved in their exploitation (unlike ours, where most of the killing and butchering is safely hidden from the average customer, and only brutalises a small percent of the population.) Ira talks of his brothers routinely catching swallows, tearing their heads off and throwing them to the cats (who were otherwise expected to feed themselves.) When he himself decides to let go a swallow that had been trapped in the house, he does it more as a heavy-handed metaphor for his own thirst for freedom than out of genuine compassion for the animal. Ira does feel a close bond with one horse, but one gets a feeling that the Amish can be as vain about their horses and buggies as "Englishers" can be about their cars. He talks at one point of a horse no Amish would be caught dead riding, or something to that effect. Ira was one of what he estimates to be twenty-percent of rebellious Amish kids. He got involved in smoking, drinking, stealing, chasing after painted English girls and the rest. He did not pray much, and seemed to have a rather shallow (if almost nonexistent) spirituality. The TV show "Amish: The World's Squarest Teenagers" had led me to believe that their culture could produce real Christians (as far as temperament and way of life are concerned), precisely because they choose to ignore much of modern culture and modern ways. But Ira Wagler is also proof that not all Amish get the message, even though his own father was the publisher of the Amish magazines "Family Life" and "The Budget", which set examples for the various communities. Ira also complains of one community that seemed to validate the comical Hollywood image of the Amish as simpleminded country bumpkins and whose only topic of conversation was the latest cow or horse caper. Amish obscurantism is probably not the most glorious trait of their culture (though I understand the rationale), and if the author's portrait was fair, I feel a bit sorry for the human types it can generate.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    I seem to always want more from these books about other more secretive religions. This author told a little about what being Amish was like, but not nearly enough detail to satisfy me. One thing that did strike me though, was how we humans seem to think that taking the tact of fear to make another toe the line is useful. It never seems to work, yet we do it over and over sometimes in such subtle fashion that we don't even realize it's fear making us chafe. I think that he did present some of the I seem to always want more from these books about other more secretive religions. This author told a little about what being Amish was like, but not nearly enough detail to satisfy me. One thing that did strike me though, was how we humans seem to think that taking the tact of fear to make another toe the line is useful. It never seems to work, yet we do it over and over sometimes in such subtle fashion that we don't even realize it's fear making us chafe. I think that he did present some of the positive things about the Amish, most impressively to me, their ability to forgive, and forgive and forgive again. The sense of community and family and how we all are here to help each other was another charming trait. Not so charming is this idea that there is only one way to God...and this is not the only religion that projects this message, so again, I'd say it's a human thing that comes to taint our religions. God does not pick sides, demand praise, punish for not being capable of believing or love one over another like we humans do. It is our nature to try and place God in our own little box of who we think It should be. Still, one can take either good from any situation or focus only on the bad. Once we are focused on the bad of some situation, is not likely that we can learn any further from it. The fact that this author found his inner self screaming for release and yet spent years trying to fit himself in this "box" of being Amish shows how very difficult it is for us to trust our Inner Guide.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Melody

    Curiously soulless, this memoir left me bewildered. I understood that Ira was unhappy growing up, so much so that he left his home and his family numerous times. What I never understood was why. He alluded to tensions at home but never detailed why things were tense. He briefly touched on Amish customs but mostly this book was taken up with a list of his behaviours and his actions over time. I never got the slightest sense of his motivations, and the book was almost over before he talked, even a Curiously soulless, this memoir left me bewildered. I understood that Ira was unhappy growing up, so much so that he left his home and his family numerous times. What I never understood was why. He alluded to tensions at home but never detailed why things were tense. He briefly touched on Amish customs but mostly this book was taken up with a list of his behaviours and his actions over time. I never got the slightest sense of his motivations, and the book was almost over before he talked, even a little, about faith.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Wendy

    I has difficulty continuing to read this but I am glad I finished it. I struggled with the authors continual disregard not only for the culture of the Amish but the people as well. His inability to say that the culture was not for him without degrading those who found comfort within its laws was annoying after the first few chapters. Constantly referring to the believers as sheep, or insinuating that they were unintelligent or somehow deficient made the author very unlikable. The single sentence I has difficulty continuing to read this but I am glad I finished it. I struggled with the authors continual disregard not only for the culture of the Amish but the people as well. His inability to say that the culture was not for him without degrading those who found comfort within its laws was annoying after the first few chapters. Constantly referring to the believers as sheep, or insinuating that they were unintelligent or somehow deficient made the author very unlikable. The single sentence in the end declaring the respect he had for the people and culture came across insincere after a whole book of negativity. When the book was done I felt peace knowing he had found a place where he felt comfortable, but I was left devoid of any feelings of sympathy or understanding for the author. Maybe it is a weakness of mine, but ever difficult situation or character flaw he seemingly tried to pass of as faults of his upbringing could be easily attributed to poor decision making and inability to commit to life path.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Meredith

    This fast, easy read isn't really about growing up Amish, it's about the author's struggle to divest himself of his Amish childhood. Ira Wagler was born into a blue-blood Amish family, and then when he was 17 (SPOILER, sort of) he left his family and community to be a cowboy. Then he returned to his family, then left again, then returned, then left again, then returned, romanced a young Amish girl, then left again, then returned, then left again. Frankly, the book got tedious, and I didn't learn This fast, easy read isn't really about growing up Amish, it's about the author's struggle to divest himself of his Amish childhood. Ira Wagler was born into a blue-blood Amish family, and then when he was 17 (SPOILER, sort of) he left his family and community to be a cowboy. Then he returned to his family, then left again, then returned, then left again, then returned, romanced a young Amish girl, then left again, then returned, then left again. Frankly, the book got tedious, and I didn't learn too much about Amish life that I didn't already know -- being 25% Pennsylvania Dutch with a large extended family in Lancaster county, I already knew many of the basic tenements of Amish life (the men work hard and grow beards, the women tend to the house and children, they wear plain clothes and drive buggies, they spend a lot of time in church) and Wagler didn't offer a bounty of new insight.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mary Blye Kramer

    Didn’t finish - not well written and not interesting

  14. 4 out of 5

    Cam

    One mans journey to find where he belongs after growing up in an Amish community. 17-year-old Ira Wagler got up at 2 AM, left a scribbled note under his pillow, packed all of his earthly belongings into in a little black duffel bag, and walked away from his home in the Amish settlement of Bloomfield, Iowa. This memoir paints a vivid portrait of Amish life―from his childhood days on the family farm, his Rumspringa rite of passage at age 16, to his ultimate decision to leave the Amish Church for g One mans journey to find where he belongs after growing up in an Amish community. 17-year-old Ira Wagler got up at 2 AM, left a scribbled note under his pillow, packed all of his earthly belongings into in a little black duffel bag, and walked away from his home in the Amish settlement of Bloomfield, Iowa. This memoir paints a vivid portrait of Amish life―from his childhood days on the family farm, his Rumspringa rite of passage at age 16, to his ultimate decision to leave the Amish Church for good at age 26.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lyndi

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I struggled a little with this book, while it was good to see the simplicity of their lives, nothing all that exciting happens. Yes, they have struggles just like us, kids are relentless no matter what religion or ethnic background, which I was sort of rooting for them, that this wouldn’t be part of their lives, as they are raised different than us, and you want for SOME sort of people for this not to happen in their community. But reading this, they are just as mean and cruel to each other as w I struggled a little with this book, while it was good to see the simplicity of their lives, nothing all that exciting happens. Yes, they have struggles just like us, kids are relentless no matter what religion or ethnic background, which I was sort of rooting for them, that this wouldn’t be part of their lives, as they are raised different than us, and you want for SOME sort of people for this not to happen in their community. But reading this, they are just as mean and cruel to each other as we are. His brothers diving accident was horrible, but I really love how no matter what family ties, the Amish come together and help each other, as we all are supposed to do, so the community/fellowship I admired. Plus his horse dying and him having to break off his engagement, as he knew it was the right thing to do was sad. And again, this summer reading program has made me think outside of my own walls and I try to put myself in their shoes. My struggles were what I have with most Amish books I read, it is boring. Since their lives are so ridged and strict, their lives for the most part are boring. And I most of the time read to get myself out of my own world and my imagination to grow, where if I read stuff like this I am stagnant, not learning anything.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Patti

    Ever since renting a gorgeous cabin from Amish proprietors for a weekend getaway, I've been wildly curious about the Amish lifestyle. Unfortunately, this was a little letdown. I loved the sections detailing day-to-day life, religious tenents, relationships, and history of the old order Amish. Most of the story focuses on Wagler's struggle to remain in this rigid community. Wagler was commendable in admitting his faults as well as espousing the virtue of many Amish people. I liked how he retrospe Ever since renting a gorgeous cabin from Amish proprietors for a weekend getaway, I've been wildly curious about the Amish lifestyle. Unfortunately, this was a little letdown. I loved the sections detailing day-to-day life, religious tenents, relationships, and history of the old order Amish. Most of the story focuses on Wagler's struggle to remain in this rigid community. Wagler was commendable in admitting his faults as well as espousing the virtue of many Amish people. I liked how he retrospectively assessed the situation and didn't smear people for a better story. However, I think this might have been better suited as a novella or essay. Most of the pages focus on his departures and returns to the community. Rating this book is difficult since Wagler's story mainly consists of back and forth traveling, but I found it slightly tedious. Even when he was in the regular English communities, the sections were vague about his actual experience. Long hours of work and little free time could have been the reason for this- nothing to tell if nothing happens. Overall, I appreciate Wagler's glimpse into a rather secretive community, and it sparked my interest to further explore this culture.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Amy Lillard

    an insightful read and a candid look into the world of the Amish

  18. 5 out of 5

    Havebooks Willread

    I've procrastinated in reviewing Growing Up Amish because I am still not sure what I think of this memoir. For starters, I am not enamored with the Amish as many people seem to be. I don't have a romantic view of their life--I think it's a lot of hard work--and I don't understand how they can view it as wrong to have modern conveniences, but then take advantage of their "English" neighbors by asking to use the phone or for rides hither, thither and yon. Call me cynical, I guess, but I lived abou I've procrastinated in reviewing Growing Up Amish because I am still not sure what I think of this memoir. For starters, I am not enamored with the Amish as many people seem to be. I don't have a romantic view of their life--I think it's a lot of hard work--and I don't understand how they can view it as wrong to have modern conveniences, but then take advantage of their "English" neighbors by asking to use the phone or for rides hither, thither and yon. Call me cynical, I guess, but I lived about 30 miles south of this book's setting for the last 17 years and that was my impression before ever reading Wagler's experience. Secondly, I'm beginning to think I'm just not a fan of memoirs in general. I like for a book to have a "finished" feeling to it. The nature of a memoir simply does not lend itself to being wrapped up with a nice tidy bow and a sense of closure. But I guess that's just my problem, isn't it? I did find Wagler's blog and stayed up reading it until after midnight one night to see what the rest of his life looked like, but guess what? He's still living, his life still isn't wrapped up with a nice tidy bow, and I still don't have a nice big "The End" for the story. I did learn about his relationships, where he goes to church, how his family is doing, and so forth, so that was interesting. But I'm still left with questions regarding the outcomes of his choices. This all leads to a rather hearty recommendation for this book as you can see I am certainly intrigued. He writes the story of his life in such a way that I care--that I want to know the answers to my questions. It's a quick and easy read and I find it rather ironic that I read the book as we drove south of Ottumwa, near Bloomfield, through Drakesville, and south on highway 63 into Missouri--the very setting of a good part of the book. I appreciated that he didn't use his platform to bash the Amish in general, but rather was respectful and stuck to sharing his personal story. I read this book three weeks ago now, and I have thought about it several times since, which also recommends it to other readers. Like other books I've read, it makes me examine our relationships with our children as I ponder his reflections and his relationship with his parents, in particular his father. "My brothers and I hung together, in silent revolt against his rather strident admonitions. That's pretty much how he communicated with us. Not by discussion but by dictates. And so he lost us, one by one, as we entered our teenage years" (55). "Don't do as I did is what we heard. Do as I say. There was no tolerance for anything less than that, no attempt to consider our perspectives. No respect, no communication, no honesty. And that simply could not work in the age-old conflict between fathers and sons" (80). This book was also enlightening regarding the spiritual views of the Amish. I have a hard time wrapping my brain around their worldview--their view of God, their view of mankind, and their response to these views. I can't help but wonder at the progression (or should I say regression) of their denomination's belief system. Without digressing too much into their theology, it appears to me that current generations are trying to ride on the faith of previous generations and mimic their practices without understanding or internalizing the purpose of those practices. This thought fills me with both sorrow and awareness as I realize how easily the same process could happen to any of us. Any time we substitute laws and rules based on what someone of faith has said or done for a personal faith and searching of scripture to see whether those things are true we make the gospel of no effect. God's way is always so much better, and reading this book reminded me that Christ in me draws people to Him. When people see His fruit in our lives--love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control--that's what prompts people to ask the reason for the hope that is within us. Grudging adherence to dead rules just turns people away. "But it wasn't only that the outside world drew us. We were also repelled by what we saw and heard around us every day. Most of the adults--those securely anchored in the faith--didn't seem any too happy in their daily lives. In fact, they were mostly downright grumpy. There was little in our own world that attracted us, made us stop and think, That's what I want. To live like that" (80). "walk the road that equated eternal life with earthly misery" (141). "The box of Amish life and culture might provide some protection, but it could never bring salvation" (265). Having said that, there are some aspects to Amish life that appeal to me (see why I can't decide what I think? I go back and forth, pros and cons, positives and negatives). I like the idea of a "simple life" in the respect of not running around like a chicken with my head cut off, slave to my calendar, technology, and materialism. I also appreciate their tendency to simply accept life. Wagler paints this as a negative, but I see it as a positive. Life is tough. Sometimes bad things happen. There's no point in getting all dramatic about it or wailing and whining. That doesn't change anything. A friend of ours who practices medicine in an area heavily populated by Mennonites has also discussed his appreciation for this attitude of simple acceptance. He doesn't have to worry that Mennonite families will sue if a loved one dies. They have a realistic acceptance of life and death that perhaps more of us should adopt. When Wagler's brother was paralyzed in a tragic accident, he says "We stoically accepted the tragedy. I don't remember even once seeing any of us breaking down or weeping aloud. We kept everything, the shock and horror of it, firmly locked inside. Dealt with it--except we never really did. In time, a dull sense of resignation seeped through us, followed by acceptance, and we proceeded forward from that point to the present day" (165). I wonder, what does he think they SHOULD have done? Granted, I imagine I would "break down and weep aloud", but ultimately, what choice would I have but to "stoically accept it" and "proceed forward from that point"? Losing it altogether (nutso freako), going catatonic, making it all about me so the injured person has to comfort me, being mad at God, suing the landowner. . .I guess I don't see how any of those options are better than "accepting it and proceeding forward". These are just a few of the thoughts Wagler's book have prompted and this post is quite long enough, so I'll stop there. If your interest is piqued, I would love for you to read it as well, bring me a Pepsi, and we could sit in my red chairs and chat it out.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Brice Karickhoff

    Totally will not be a 5 star book for everyone, but for me, this was my favorite modern memoir I think I’ve read in recent years (exception of maybe Snowden’s and Hiding Place). Objectively the writing was pretty good and the story itself was riveting for sure, but no more riveting than Educated, Malala, In Order to Live, etc. For whatever reason, I just connected with the author of this book in a way that other memoirs have yet to connect. Maybe it’s that the author is a guy and guys connect be Totally will not be a 5 star book for everyone, but for me, this was my favorite modern memoir I think I’ve read in recent years (exception of maybe Snowden’s and Hiding Place). Objectively the writing was pretty good and the story itself was riveting for sure, but no more riveting than Educated, Malala, In Order to Live, etc. For whatever reason, I just connected with the author of this book in a way that other memoirs have yet to connect. Maybe it’s that the author is a guy and guys connect better with guys and girls connect better with girls. I do notice that basically everyone who raves about Educated, Becoming, and Malala is a girl. So there’s something to be said for that. However, independent of that obvious opportunity for connection, I think that this memoir might’ve been the most authentic and vulnerable work in this genre I’ve read. And SO relatable. The author struggles with orthodoxy and liberalism. He expresses the tension between his emotions and his thoughts. He tries and constantly fails to balance loyalty to his family and friends and discontent with their culture. Ultimately, the book is a story of his battle to know himself. For me, it struck pretty deep. Even when it wasn’t relatable, I felt sympathy as I read. All around great read! I feel like I liked it more than most people will, but nonetheless, I’d suggest it. Also, Amish culture is just crazy interesting.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Doreen Petersen

    Surprisingly a really good book.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    I'm as interested in Amish life as I am interested in the life of any/all repressive religious groups' lives, I suppose. This book is a pretty good reminder of why you are so lucky if you were brought up free from religion. Other than that, it's not a particularly interesting work. The book starts off better and gets worse as it goes on. I get the impression that the author actually wanted to write about his childhood and lost interest in writing details as he got older. Perhaps he felt compelled I'm as interested in Amish life as I am interested in the life of any/all repressive religious groups' lives, I suppose. This book is a pretty good reminder of why you are so lucky if you were brought up free from religion. Other than that, it's not a particularly interesting work. The book starts off better and gets worse as it goes on. I get the impression that the author actually wanted to write about his childhood and lost interest in writing details as he got older. Perhaps he felt compelled to write past the time he was truly interested in writing about to create a cohesive narrative. That's fair. I can understand why that happens. But the beginning about Ira Wagler's young childhood is the best part. Particularly of interest to me was the cruelty of the children to each other. Apparently this religious group isn't very invested in trying to get children to practice truly ethical behavior. And the cruelty continues. I don't think most readers would be very sensitive to this, but the Amish treat their horses terribly, overworking them and making them be more or less required to have by men even if the men don't actually know how to care for a horse. Some communities don't even allow rubber wheels, preferring instead to work horses to death by having them pull buggies on metal wheels. In the book, Mr. Wagler is surprised when his strong stallion dies suddenly, by his estimation. But he admitted earlier he's not much of horseman and anyone who read Black Beauty can tell you that inexperienced or uncaring "masters" can accidentally cause the death of a horse by failing to notice any number of details about these intelligent, sensitive creatures' lives. Also, one of the few "fun" activites accepted by the Amish for the youth is hunting. If terrorizing and killing others is what an individual or culture considers fun, that's not a good individual or culture. That is how you desensitize yourself from the suffering of others. That is how you breed and spread evil, for lack of a better word. Luckily, at least our narrator wasn't particularly interested in hunting, it was simply one of the few "diversions" open to him, I'm happy for Mr. Wagler that he got out, but now he's a Mennonite. That's fine, it's better than Amish, I suppose. You know what would have been even better? If he'd become a truly actualized human, free from religion to explore all the big questions. And then he'd written a memoir about life growing up Amish from that, much more interesting, perspective.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mark Nenadov

    I enjoyed this portrayal of the struggles of an young Amish man as he repeatedly tries to leave the group he grew up in. Ira does a fantastic job conveying his complex personal history. He writes with remarkable passion and depth of emotion. His memoir is accessible to anyone who has a passing knowledge of the life of the Amish. He's a pretty good story teller--he tightly packs emotions into words that endear the reader. He's pretty good at picking out details, stories, characters, and anecdotes I enjoyed this portrayal of the struggles of an young Amish man as he repeatedly tries to leave the group he grew up in. Ira does a fantastic job conveying his complex personal history. He writes with remarkable passion and depth of emotion. His memoir is accessible to anyone who has a passing knowledge of the life of the Amish. He's a pretty good story teller--he tightly packs emotions into words that endear the reader. He's pretty good at picking out details, stories, characters, and anecdotes that help to illustrate and adorn what he is saying. Though I've never been Mennonite or Amish, I did grow up and spend a portion of my Christian life within another less radical Anabaptist group. And while I would certainly not pretend to have had a similar experiences, I can relate to some aspects of this memoir. Ira has long, strange tale to tell, one which will help those who are parsing similar experiences or just want to understand the Amish and their discontents. I will never again be able to see the buggies that traverse the dusty county roads of New York state in the same light.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    I appreciate the fact that this man doesn't have hatred and bitterness toward the people he left, even though they had beliefs and practices that were strange and empty to him. And I'm glad he found happiness. It ends his story so well. I appreciate the fact that this man doesn't have hatred and bitterness toward the people he left, even though they had beliefs and practices that were strange and empty to him. And I'm glad he found happiness. It ends his story so well.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Nicole Dingman

    Finish this book last week. I've always been fascinated with the Amish, and this book proves to provide A great story and a feel for what it's like to live in the Amish community. Finish this book last week. I've always been fascinated with the Amish, and this book proves to provide A great story and a feel for what it's like to live in the Amish community.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Muphyn

    As far as memoirs goes, it's a well-written and highly readable insight into Amish life in the late 1970s and 1980s. I appreciate Wagler not trying to make up dialogues and conversations that took place 20 odd years (as so often seems to be happen in memoirs and I always wonder how truthful these are) but I wish he'd gone a bit deeper into Amish culture, daily life, his depression, despair and "wild years". I wasn't quite sure what exactly he and his friends did when they went wild. There was tal As far as memoirs goes, it's a well-written and highly readable insight into Amish life in the late 1970s and 1980s. I appreciate Wagler not trying to make up dialogues and conversations that took place 20 odd years (as so often seems to be happen in memoirs and I always wonder how truthful these are) but I wish he'd gone a bit deeper into Amish culture, daily life, his depression, despair and "wild years". I wasn't quite sure what exactly he and his friends did when they went wild. There was talk of "partying" but what did that involve? Excessive drinking? Staying up all night drinking and being hungover the next day? Smoking, drugs, sex (I doubt the latter)? What horrendous sins did he commit that he couldn't exactly state what they were yet kept saying they were unforgivable? I'm also left wondering what exactly Amish culture is or what exactly makes up Amish faith. There isn't much reflection and depth as to what defines Amish people beyond 'horse and buggy', 'barn-door pants', 'electricity vs no-electricity' but these are just outward manifestations and not dealt with in-depth. I don't feel like I got an insight into how Amish people (or at least one community) ticks. He reiterates a few times how different settlements are different but he fails to pinpoint what that means. What makes one community tick differently than another, and what exactly does that look like? Why did he not connect with people? What did they talk about? Some of it feels like Wagler tried to be too respectful and protective, which I can understand, but it left me feeling oddly dissatisfied. On a positive note, the book never felt like you're at a pity party but rather a painful account of a confused and lost Amish guy searching for the truth, his faith and a place to belong. Loved the hopeful note the book ended on.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Janie

    Interesting book about an old order Amish. Two personally interesting parts of this memoir: This also insignificant bit of fact is interesting to me because Wagler mentioned a young schoolmate who was bullied. The family eventually moved with to Bland, VA which is a quite rural area about an hour from my hometown. Also, the later burial of the bullied boy was in Pearisburg, Virginia, much closer to my hometown. These connections always surprise me. The second and more significant connection is ear Interesting book about an old order Amish. Two personally interesting parts of this memoir: This also insignificant bit of fact is interesting to me because Wagler mentioned a young schoolmate who was bullied. The family eventually moved with to Bland, VA which is a quite rural area about an hour from my hometown. Also, the later burial of the bullied boy was in Pearisburg, Virginia, much closer to my hometown. These connections always surprise me. The second and more significant connection is early on in the book. Wagler talks about his father a lot and how he likes to write, especially moralistic stories. My mind immediately visualized the wonderful stories of the Pathway readers we used with our children. About the time this focused in my mind's eye, Wagler says that his father went on to found what became Pathway Publishers. After sleuthing this, I found that, yes, indeed, David Wagler was one in the same. More than likely, many of those memorable stories were written by him.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Dawn

    I read Growing Up Amish for my book club, and I found it very interesting. I was glad to learn more about Amish culture. I saw Amish when we lived in Ohio, but we live in Iowa now and I did not know that there are also Amish communities here. The community in which Ira grew up is actually located in southern Iowa. I was glad to learn more about the differences between Amish and Mennonite communities. The easiest difference for us outsiders to understand is simply that Mennonites use technology, I read Growing Up Amish for my book club, and I found it very interesting. I was glad to learn more about Amish culture. I saw Amish when we lived in Ohio, but we live in Iowa now and I did not know that there are also Amish communities here. The community in which Ira grew up is actually located in southern Iowa. I was glad to learn more about the differences between Amish and Mennonite communities. The easiest difference for us outsiders to understand is simply that Mennonites use technology, while Amish don't. One of the women in my book group grew up with good friends who had been Amish and then changed to Mennonite. So she shared some first hand experiences and personal insights from them which added a lot to our discussion. The author seems to have been a very emotionally sensitive and conflicted person. He suffered from depression. He loved his family, but he did not have a good relationship with his father. He disliked the heavy farm work and he wanted more options than his Amish community offered. Most of all, he felt stifled in a religion where he found no meaning. All he saw were old rituals and traditions in which he found no solace. Ira tried to leave many times. With some other teenage Amish boys, he would run away and find work doing hard physical labor on a farm or in construction. He would get drunk on the weekends and try to enjoy experimenting with his "freedom." But of course, that life didn't bring him satisfaction either. After a while he would run out of money, be missing his family, and return home, only to leave again later. He felt guilty for leaving his family, but he couldn't stand staying. He was even engaged at one point, but broke it off, unable to marry an Amish girl he loved because of his inner turmoil. Ira's religious journey is the most interesting aspect of the book to me. Religion is very important to me, so I can't help comparing things from this book to my life and my own faith community. I wonder if some of my loved ones who have left my church had feelings similar to Ira's? Did they feel stifled and oppressed by traditions in which they found no meaning? Why did they lose their connection with God, while I, on the other hand, find so much joy and meaning in my faith? What made the difference? One thing I really appreciated about Ira's story is that it is not the typical rejection of religion scenario. While Ira eventually left the Amish faith, he did not leave God. He actually didn't go far; he just became Mennonite. One reason that Ira kept returning to the Amish was that he was afraid for his soul. He sincerely believed that he might be damned if he left his religion. Ira finally found spiritual peace because he finally found Jesus Christ! An amazing friend helped Ira realize that he could pray personally. He didn't have to carry his burdens alone. Christ loved him and would help him. He really could be forgiven of his sins and mistakes. When Ira developed a personal relationship with the Savior, it totally changed his life! He became much happier. He found renewed purpose and meaning in his life. He finally felt peace and courage to move on. That friend was so important for Ira. I want to be that kind of friend.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Starr

    Growing Up Amish by Ira Wagler Tyndale House Publishers- July 2011 www.irawagler.com Facebook: yes 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. T Growing Up Amish by Ira Wagler Tyndale House Publishers- July 2011 www.irawagler.com Facebook: yes 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,

  29. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    This was a very quick and pretty absorbing read (I think I read it in a day!) about an Amish man who leaves his community for the big, bad wild world. Actually (MINOR SPOILERS HERE) he leaves repeatedly, which I wasn't expecting, and both makes the story more and less interesting at the same time. I was expecting it to be more of a single exodus and then we get to hear all about his life outside the community and how he adjusted and fit in over time. But instead he kept going back... and back ag This was a very quick and pretty absorbing read (I think I read it in a day!) about an Amish man who leaves his community for the big, bad wild world. Actually (MINOR SPOILERS HERE) he leaves repeatedly, which I wasn't expecting, and both makes the story more and less interesting at the same time. I was expecting it to be more of a single exodus and then we get to hear all about his life outside the community and how he adjusted and fit in over time. But instead he kept going back... and back again... and again (this is what I mean by "less interesting"--it was kind of like the movie Groundhog Day. Not to trivialize this man's struggles. Although I guess I just did). On the other hand, it made it more interesting because you really get a feel for the back-and-forth tug of war that this poor man went through over a period of a decade. It's HARD to just leave everything you've ever known, even if you know deep down that this is ultimately the right thing for you to do. He was great at conveying this mental tug-of-war, even though I don't completely understand it myself--those of us fortunate enough to be raised in a comfortable, non-restrictive lifestyle with lots of freedoms and choices might find it hard to really put yourself in his place. I also found it interesting how MANY Amish leave the faith. It wasn't just this guy, it was lots of his siblings and friends as well. I'm not sure if this is a new thing or if people have always been leaving Amish communities at this rate. It's like they were hemorrhaging young people. I would have loved more information about his life on the "outside"--we heard a lot about it on his many temporary "drifter" ventures (as he describes them) but nothing about what happened after the final time he left. Although I realize this was probably to protect his own privacy about his current life, I was curious to hear more about the "final straw" and what exactly was different about the last time he left that caused him to not go back. I really wanted to learn about what turned him from "drifter" to permanent resident of the outside world. But overall, an interesting and quick read about a community I did not know a whole lot about before.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Brandon H.

    "It's a strange but an indisputable fact, even among the Amish other Amish seem odd." - Ira Wagler Having been to some Amish communities in Shipshewana and Goshen, Indiana on numerous occasions, this book intrigued me. For quite some time I have been curious about these odd people and this book addressed my curiosity. It was enlightening. In the Amish world, things are not quite as pleasant as they may appear to "the English" people who occasionally bump into these people living out the tradition "It's a strange but an indisputable fact, even among the Amish other Amish seem odd." - Ira Wagler Having been to some Amish communities in Shipshewana and Goshen, Indiana on numerous occasions, this book intrigued me. For quite some time I have been curious about these odd people and this book addressed my curiosity. It was enlightening. In the Amish world, things are not quite as pleasant as they may appear to "the English" people who occasionally bump into these people living out the traditions and faith of their ancient fathers. Their lifestyle may look quaint and simpler and even free from the stress of the modern world yet it isn't. There positive things among the Amish, no doubt, but it is not a carefree, heavenly existence by any means. Reading this story reminded me that there is no Garden of Eden nor is there any perfect community anywhere on earth. As C.S. Lewis once said, "We live in the shadowlands." So do the Amish. While Mr. Wagler shared his intriguing story and his struggles growing up Amish, he never spoke of them out of bitterness or contempt. He didn't slander them or gossip about them but spoke honestly about the difficulties he endured. I can see why some would consider the Amish a cult. Many of their practices aren't Biblical although they would probably passionately disagree with such a statement. At the heart of their doctrine is the belief that the only way to heaven is through the Amish church. But this story is mostly about Ira's journey, which is a really good story in and of itself. But if you're on interested about the Amish, it's a good book to read. It's also a great book to read if you're searching for more in your life and dealing with restlessness in your soul; if you think that if you just keep the rules of your culture, religion, peer group, etc. then you'll find peace and joy. I challenge you to take this journey withe Ira and see where it may lead you.

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