Thursday, July 12, 2012

Why I Left the Amish

Title: Why I Left the Amish
Author: Saloma Miller Furlong
Rating: <3 <3 <3
Summary: There are two ways to leave the Amish — one is through life and the other through death. When Saloma Miller Furlong’s father dies during her first semester at Smith College, she returns to the Amish community she had left twenty four years earlier to attend his funeral. Her journey home prompts a flood of memories. Now a mother with grown children of her own, Furlong recalls her painful childhood in a family defined by her father’s mental illness, her brother’s brutality, her mother’s frustration, and the austere traditions of the Amish — traditions Furlong struggled to accept for years before making the difficult decision to leave the community. In this personal and moving memoir, Furlong traces the genesis of her desire for freedom and education and chronicles her conflicted quest for independence. Eloquently told, Why I Left the Amishis a revealing portrait of life within — and without — this frequently misunderstood community.

Review: This book was recommended to me by the author, after she read my review for Unorthodox, on Goodreads. I decided to take her advice, and ordered the book.  It is about the life of young Saloma Miller who grows up with a Father who has mental capabilities that are less than those of the average individual, and a Mother who looks the other way as her daughters are abused physically, sexually, and emotionally very roughly by their older brother and very harshly beaten by their Father.  The memoir takes you deep into the world of what the author describes as where a young person must choose between leaving their family behind, and going their own way,  which in her case this was wanting an education, and a chance to make her own choices, or joining the Amish church and blindly following the rules for the rest of your life.  The book really opens your eyes to facets of the Amish culture that I was not aware of before, and struggles that Amish young people and children face within the Amish community, struggles that are often romanticized in novels about the Amish culture, which were brought out in a harsh light in this book. It ended on a brighter note, because Saloma does get out and marry someone she loves, and get an education... so that made me feel better, but some of the scenes I would not recommend for younger readers. But it does make you think about a culture that is often romanticized within our society...with facts that are obviously UNTRUE.

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