Thursday, October 28, 2010
WHY I LEFT THE AMISH
Ms. Furlong's memoir takes us inside the rural life of the Amish in Ohio; a life ruled by the men of the community. Growing up in an abusive and dysfunctional family, the author suffered many indignities before summoning the courage to embark on a new life in Vermont, a place she had only visited in magazines and in her own imagination.
As an outsider, or someone considered "English", I didn't know much about the Amish culture before reading this book. I always considered them to be peaceful religious people who worked the land and didn't participate in wars or use modern technology. Their sense of community seemed to be the cornerstone of their peaceful existence. And let's not forget those beautiful quilts we all covet.
It never occurred to me that even within this group there could exist a caste system and tolerance for abuse -- emotional, physical and sexual -- with little or no protection for the young women of the community. Every facet of the author's life as a young Amish woman was training for subservient community life with no concern for individual pursuits. As her anger at her situation grew, so did her desire to create a life of her own.
How wonderful for Ms. Furlong that she was able to meet so many people that would assist her in finding her way in the world. As she became more mature and confident, she was able to return to the Amish community for her father's funeral with far less trepidation than one would expect.
If you'd like to learn more about the Amish life, Ms. Furlong's book raises the curtain for a peek inside this culture and religion in her fascinating and heartfelt memoir. The author's courage is uplifting and I look forward to reading the next installment of her journey.