Tuesday, January 8, 2013

More on The Amish

I couldn’t resist writing about this recent article on the Amish in the Washington Post brought to my attention by Erik on his Amish America blogpost (which I can’t recommend highly enough if this subject is of interest to you) where he summarizes Why We Are Fascinated by the Amish.

For me, I’d have to say that my family history is the main reason I am interested in the Amish. My great-grandmother and namesake, Carrie, grew up Amish in Northern Indiana. I remember my grandmother taking me to visit Amish kin when I was a little girl and I used to play with the kittens on their farm. Also, I’ve always had an interested in simple living and appreciate and respect those who choose a self-sufficient lifestyle.

And naturally, as a juvenile fiction writer, rumspringa is of great interest. One of the universal truths I used in order to write about my Amish protagonist Sarah Yoder, is the common coming of age questioning of faith. Doubting the religion one was raised in is something many young adults from all walks of life can identify with. But for Amish youth, I believe it is even more of a struggle because they will be required to answer that question in a very concrete way: will they decide to get baptized into the Amish faith? Or not and relinquish their ties to family and community?

I drew upon my own experiences from the Peace Corps when I was in Africa to help me understand Sarah. I was thrown into a completely new environment and seriously questioned my faith. Like Sarah, who is catapulted into the English work world to help her family survive the economic downturn of the family business due to the recession, she encounters a very different environment from the one in which she grew up. The boy she meets is the wild, free and naturally artistic punker Liam who, due to life circumstances is very mature for his age, like many of the Amish who from early on are given more responsibility than their English counter parts. Despite their dissimilar backgrounds they have much in common and find themselves irresitibly attracted to each other. 

As you can probably tell, I cannot wait to share this story of first love with you! And of course I am curious to know, what parts interest you in the Amish?

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