Tuesday, September 27, 2011

"Growing Up Amish" by Ira Wagler

When I was a teenager I dreamt of going back to a more "natural" lifestyle, one of community, homespun clothes and the hard work which goes with it. I never thought about those who were already doing that and wanted a piece of the life I was leading. Ira Wagler was one of those. As a child of the Amish community he longed to see beyond the narrow borders of his own world, just as I was straining to look into a world more like his. And that's the most fascinating thing about this book. We all want to be somewhere, or someone, else.

The author leaves home 3 different times, with a friend, in search of something different than the way in which he was raised. But he always returns, like the Prodigal Son, to the place he began. Along the way he works at odd jobs, relying on the very strengths which he learned in the Amish community to make a living. His journey is both spiritual, and in some cases, comical, as when he and his friend bought an old car. His adventures are mostly innocent forays into the secular world, for which he was not entirely prepared.

When all is said and done, Ira Wagler, and the reader, both learn that we are all more a product of our upbringings then we would sometimes care to admit. For better, or worse, we are all just who we are, plus, or minus, any changes we might make to ourselves along the way.

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