Amish memoir

Growing Up Amish by
Ira Wagler
What a fine book.
Ira Wagler was born Amish, and Amish he remained, off and on, for
years upon years. Even though, from his teen years on, he’d escape to the other
world (the one the rest of us live in) to get some breathing room. And then
he’d return to his roots.
It’s utterly interesting to hear about his not feeling like he fit
in either world completely, and the way his family and his Amish origins tugged
him back, even though he knew it wasn’t the right fit for him.
From the start of the book, we know that he’s left the Amish, but
I tell you, there were moments in his life when I didn’t know how he could have
gotten from there to here. He just seemed so torn.
And that’s the kind of story that, in the hands of a gifted writer
(and he is one), is more riveting than one would expect.
And there are some wonderful lines, such as this:
“My father was a man of many gifts and skills. Farming was not one
of them.” (p. 43)
OK, so that’s pretty funny (or maybe not so funny, if you were
him), especially when farming’s the big thing they were supposed to be doing.
Turns out, his father was a writer, and a good one, who was widely
known among the Amish nationwide. So, if this was next statement was true, I’m willing to give the
man a pass: “We didn’t realize it then, but our farm was just plain
trashy.”  (p. 43) That made me smile. 
But the overall tone of the book is actually somber, since
it’s largely about the author’s feelings of not-belonging-here-or-there. There’s a lot of heart-wrenching stuff here. 
The fellow has a blog, and you can see examples of his fine
writing there. 
Also, during his youth, he lived in southern Iowa for a time, so that thrilled me to no end.
Small-town Iowa’s
a rare thing to find in a book, and it’s almost pathetic how excited I get when
I discover it there.
If you’re a fan of memoirs about ordinary lives told beautifully
well, or if you like subculture memoirs, this is a very fine example of both of
those things. 

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