Growing Up Amish by Ira Wagler is a memoir by a man who grew up in an Amish family and struggled for years before finally leaving the church at the age of 26. Ira left the Amish lifestyle multiple times over a period of about ten years, but was drawn back repeatedly because of his fear of being eternally lost if he remained outside the church. It was only after coming to a personal relationship with Christ and gaining peace about his spiritual condition that he was able to finally give in to the yearnings he had for life outside the box he had felt confined in.
Because of my interest and enjoyment in reading Amish fiction and learning more of the plain lifestyle, I was intrigued by the details of Amish workings from a non-fiction perspective. However, the author's story was so full of hurt and defeat -- his own and others -- that I felt almost depressed by the time I finished the book. I did appreciate the fact that while he disagreed with much about the lifestyle of the people he left behind, Ira did not "bash" the individuals or put them down as a whole. This is definitely not a "feel-good" story; rather it is a difficult look at a troubled season of life.
(Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for my honest review.)