I don't often read biographies and autobiographies but growing up across the road from a family of Quakers I've always had a bit of an interest in religious groups within the same family.
The author was Amish, born and bred, one of eleven siblings. His father was a respected and well-known member of the Amish Old Order. At the age of 17 he decided to leave the confines of the community he lived in, walking out in the middle of the night and leaving a note for his parents. The book details life growing up in an Amish community, the Rumspringa rite of passage, and life as a young Amish man. He did return home, and for years battled with where he really belonged, finally leaving for good at age 26.
I was absorbed by the details of daily life and hadn't previously appreciated how different the rules governing Amish life can be, depending on which community a family lives in. The book also exploded some myths about Rumspringa for me.What really captured me though was the author's battle between his desire to experience the wider world and his fears about being excommunicated and the consequences, drummed into him from an early age.
This was a quick read for me, well-written and interesting. In some places I laughed, in others I smiled and was so happy for Ira, and in other parts again I could feel how distressing his lonely struggle must have been. All in all it was a really good read and as a bonus I have learnt a little from this book.
Format: Advance review copy, anticipated release date 1st July 2011
My rating: 4*