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Growing Up Amish

Ira Wagler's memoir

I've always been interested in various cultures and the Amish communities sprinkled about the U.S. are among some of the most fascinating. When I was younger, I had the pleasure of visiting a couple different Midwestern Amish communities and can remember being amazed by their choice of simplicity in a world where most of us can't pop a popcorn without a microwave.

From the perspective of an American outside of the Amish community, I'd always thought that their lives were simple, pious and somehow above the less pleasant truths of humanity, like bullying and teen rebellion. My ignorance to the Amish culture, was shattered by the shocking, emotional and unforgettable honesty in Ira Wagler's memoir, Growing Up Amish.

Wagler was born into a Canadian Amish family who later moved to the U.S. His book recounts his youth in the Amish community, and his inner struggle to decide where he belonged. Despite its almost 300 pages, the book was a quick read, because I just couldn't put it down. Beyond learning from the unique insights on the Amish lifestyle, his unique coming of age battle to discover himself and honor his upbringing just kept me turning pages.

Every young man feels like he's trying to find himself and the path he must travel, but few have had such interesting dimensions as Ira Wagler. His innately adventurous nature and thirst for freedom was a complete contradiction to the life in which he was raised, which on the surface seems shockingly familiar, yet as you read, feels totally foreign.

Growing Up Amish is an enjoyable, honest and enlightening read that made me laugh, cry and reflect all the way through.