If you’re looking for insight into why Amish become ex-Amish, you won’t find it in this book, Growing Up Amish by Ira Wagler.
There is an excellent documentary (on Netflix) called “Amish: Out of Order” that has 10 episodes which highlight the challenges people face when raised Amish, and, the difficulties they encounter if they choose to leave. But back to the book at hand…
Growing Up Amish by Ira Wagler is tedious to read. His memoir doesn’t shed any light on why he decided to become ex-Amish. Instead, you are carried through each exodus as though it’s a massive change in his life, and it would be, except that it’s temporary, and repetitive. He leaves – and returns – to the Amish four or five times. He finally decides to join the church, asks a young woman to marry him, courts her, and as the wedding time nears, breaks things off with her and leaves – AGAIN. Not long after he is out, he decides he doesn’t want to be excommunicated after all, and requests forgiveness and is accepted back into the Amish church – only to leave AGAIN.
Once through about 75% of the book I couldn’t wait to finally be done with it. I hoped to have some answers about how or why he chose to leave the Amish once and for all, especially after the clear turmoil he went through with each decision-reversal, but that is not provided to the readers of his memoir. No, he simply leaves yet again, and the book ends with him back in the world.
I’m slightly curious what made his final exodus “final” but I doubt he knows. He didn’t seem to know why he was so indecisive.
If you’re interested in the ex-Amish, definitely check out the documentary “Amish: Out of Order” and skip this memoir.