Leah is seventeen and Amish. Like many her age, she has lots of questions, but the temporary flight of freedom known as rumspringen is not the answer for her. She does not desire Englisher fashion, all-night parties, movies, or lots of boyfriends. Leah is seeking to understand her relationship with God, to deepen and broaden her faith by joining a Bible study hosted by an ex-Amish couple. She wants to know why Amish life is the only lifestyle her family accepts, why the church has so many rules, and . . . most disturbing, how godly men can allow her best friend to be abused in her own home. In the pressure-cooker environment of church and family, Leah is not allowed to ask these questions. When finally she reaches the breaking point, she walks away from the Old Order Amish life that is all she has known. Though adapting amiably to the Englisher world, Leah is tormented with homesickness. Returning to the community, however, entails a journey of pain and sorrow Leah could never have imagined. The miting--shunning--that will now be Leah's unendurable oppression every day is beyond her most devoted attempts to believe or understand. All the bishop and her family ask is that she abandon her practice of reading the Bible. Is that a price she is willing to pay?
Seventeen year old Leah is curious about the Bible and in her search to better understand God, she joins a Bible Study group without the knowledge of her family. It is through this group that she learns that God is not the one dictating all the specific rules that her order says they have to follow. I have always been fascinated by the Amish and this book offered great insight into their world. It explains how each order’s beliefs and customs can vary depending on their head Bishop. Some orders will even allow indoor plumbing, phone and propane use, and so on. Other orders, including Leah’s which is a Old Order, are very strict. For example, Leah’s order dictates that they cannot use buttons on their dresses, the specific types of curtains they can put on their windows and that no flowers can be planted on their yard.
Leah’s family eventually learn about her Bible Study group and forbids her to continue attending since per Amish beliefs, church leaders are the only ones allowed to interpret the Bible. Leah insistence on continuing to read the Bible and the problem it caused for her and her family eventually forces her to leave her family and friends behind. Although it breaks her heart, she wants the freedom to learn more about God. This results in the “miting” or shunning by her people. She does attempt to come back due to her extreme homesickness but quickly realizes that she cannot stay with her newly acquired knowledge of what the Bible is stating versus what her church dictates of their followers. Yoder did a great job of exploring the heartbreak that comes with each of Leah’s decisions. This book has two great things going for it; not only is it a compelling story but it also offers an inside look into the Amish culture for anyone who has ever been curious about their beliefs and customs.
*I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. Roberta