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Growing Up Amish

3.36  ·  Rating Details ·  9,895 Ratings  ·  1,045 Reviews
Ira Wagler was born in 1961, the ninth of a Canadian Amish couple's eleven children. At seventeen, in the dark of night, he left the religious settlement, but it was only nine years later that he finally left the church for good. His favorite Bible verse is from Psalm 34: "Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." In this new memoir, he ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published April 1st 2012 by Tyndale House Publishers (first published June 28th 2011)
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May 03, 2012 Megan rated it it was ok
I was hoping for a bigger picture of Amish life than what I got. What I got instead was the author's biased opinion and feelings about his Amish faith and community.

The beginning of the book deals with the author's upbringing and what the culture is like, which is very interesting. However, this is not dealt with deeply; instead, the author expresses his doubts about the Amish religion and his disagreements with it. I personally am not interested in how the Amish religion is *wrong*, I am inter
I suppose by definition, when you write a memoir you’re assuming that people will be interested in your life. And when I read a memoir, I’m conceding that I am interested in the writer’s life. But this memoir says that in such an egotistical way that I was left wondering who the hell Ira Wagner thinks he is that anyone would read this.

First off, the prose is so melodramatic and overreaching that it makes me cringe. It’s so obviously an English 101 writing assignment (or if not literally an assig
Jaclyn Day
Jan 02, 2013 Jaclyn Day rated it liked it
I think there’s a lot of curiosity among non-Amish about their religion and day-to-day lives. As Wagler points out, there’s a misguided, yet persistent romantic view of their simple way of life that speaks to us through the rampant materialism, pop culture and technology that we are surrounded by. Logically, we all know that their lives are hard. That living without electricity and doing manual labor all day is not necessarily a life that we would choose to lead. That probably explains, as Wagle ...more
Sandra Stiles
Sep 04, 2011 Sandra Stiles rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult, amish
I have always loved reading and hearing about the Amish life. There are several reasons for this. I grew upon a farm in Indiana. My parents became Christians when I was five. With no one to guide her in her walk, my mother decided it was better to err on God’s side. Board games, dancing of any kind, and most television shows became off limits or a sin. My books and comic books were scrutinized. My mom’s first question whenever I told her about a new friend was, “Are they a Christian?” I had few ...more
Dec 17, 2011 Annie rated it it was ok
This was a little bit of a disappointment to me actually. The premiss was interesting enough and it started alright, but I totally skim-read at least the whole last 2 chapters just to get it over with! I mean come on! We get it... it's hard to leave your roots and do something new! I get the message he was trying to convey, but it was literally the last 2 pages where he came to the conclusion of the 200+ pages of a struggling, depressed Amish-man who can't make up his mind! There were some inter ...more
Jean-françois Virey
Aug 18, 2011 Jean-françois Virey rated it it was ok
"Growing Up Amish" is written in a style I normally avoid, with lots of fragments, i.e. bits of sentences, sometimes even a couple of words, that are gratified with a full stop and, often, a line of their own for more dramatic effect. Had I known it was that kind of book, I might not even have bought it.
Or read it.
Because I myself never use fragments.
I find them cheap. And low-brow. To be avoided. At all costs.

I came to the book with a rather recent but fairly extended knowledge of Am
Ryan Mercer
Aug 21, 2012 Ryan Mercer rated it it was amazing
I listen to audible books at work, as well as read traditionally at home. One of my recent Audible purchases was Growing up Amish: A Memoir by Ira Wagler which you can find on Amazon (just click the Amazon banner on the right hand side of my page and give it a click then search the title). In short, I say get a copy of the book, it's well worth the read... and if reading isn't your thing, give the Audible book a go the narrator is great!

I've always been curious as to the Amish way of life due to
Dec 11, 2011 Nancy rated it it was ok
I seem to always want more from these books about other more secretive religions. This author told a little about what being Amish was like, but not nearly enough detail to satisfy me. One thing that did strike me though, was how we humans seem to think that taking the tact of fear to make another toe the line is useful. It never seems to work, yet we do it over and over sometimes in such subtle fashion that we don't even realize it's fear making us chafe. I think that he did present some of the ...more
Rebecca McNutt
One son of many in a Canadian Amish family, Ira Wagler's book de-glamourizes the false Amish images of ever-present peace and harmony, but it still talks about a community of family-oriented, faith-based people who truly value their lifestyle. Growing Up Amish is a dramatic memoir of a man who changed his thinking and transferred from farm life to modernity.
Sep 11, 2011 Meredith rated it it was ok
This fast, easy read isn't really about growing up Amish, it's about the author's struggle to divest himself of his Amish childhood. Ira Wagler was born into a blue-blood Amish family, and then when he was 17 (SPOILER, sort of) he left his family and community to be a cowboy. Then he returned to his family, then left again, then returned, then left again, then returned, romanced a young Amish girl, then left again, then returned, then left again. Frankly, the book got tedious, and I didn't learn ...more
Jul 05, 2013 Melody rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: heard
Curiously soulless, this memoir left me bewildered. I understood that Ira was unhappy growing up, so much so that he left his home and his family numerous times. What I never understood was why. He alluded to tensions at home but never detailed why things were tense. He briefly touched on Amish customs but mostly this book was taken up with a list of his behaviours and his actions over time. I never got the slightest sense of his motivations, and the book was almost over before he talked, even a ...more
Aug 25, 2011 Lyndi rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 04, 2013 Wendy rated it it was ok
I has difficulty continuing to read this but I am glad I finished it. I struggled with the authors continual disregard not only for the culture of the Amish but the people as well. His inability to say that the culture was not for him without degrading those who found comfort within its laws was annoying after the first few chapters. Constantly referring to the believers as sheep, or insinuating that they were unintelligent or somehow deficient made the author very unlikable. The single sentence ...more
Jul 02, 2011 Laura rated it it was amazing
Author: Ira Wagler
Publisher: Tyndale
June 2011
ISBN: 978-1-4143-3936-8
Genre: Inspirational/Amish/memoir

GROWING UP AMISH is one man’s story of his quest to fit into the Amish—something he was born into, but in his heart, didn’t belong to.

Ira Wagler was the 9th child of the famous David Wagler who was long time Editor of Family Life. But Ira never quite fit into his Amish family or community. Getting in with a wild crowd, Ira spend his free time hanging out with friends and p
Mark Nenadov
Jun 16, 2012 Mark Nenadov rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this portrayal of the struggles of an young Amish man as he repeatedly tries to leave the group he grew up in.

Ira does a fantastic job conveying his complex personal history. He writes with remarkable passion and depth of emotion. His memoir is accessible to anyone who has a passing knowledge of the life of the Amish. He's a pretty good story teller--he tightly packs emotions into words that endear the reader. He's pretty good at picking out details, stories, characters, and anecdotes
Sep 25, 2012 Jessica rated it really liked it
I appreciate the fact that this man doesn't have hatred and bitterness toward the people he left, even though they had beliefs and practices that were strange and empty to him. And I'm glad he found happiness. It ends his story so well.
Amy Lillard
Feb 17, 2015 Amy Lillard rated it it was amazing
an insightful read and a candid look into the world of the Amish
Havebooks Willread
Mar 07, 2014 Havebooks Willread rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, kindle
I've procrastinated in reviewing Growing Up Amish because I am still not sure what I think of this memoir. For starters, I am not enamored with the Amish as many people seem to be. I don't have a romantic view of their life--I think it's a lot of hard work--and I don't understand how they can view it as wrong to have modern conveniences, but then take advantage of their "English" neighbors by asking to use the phone or for rides hither, thither and yon. Call me cynical, I guess, but I lived abou ...more
I don't know what I was expecting with this book but I don't think this was it. I guess I expected the Amish culture to be even more foreign than it really is. I was fascinated with this man's journey. My conclusion from reading this book is all the outward trapping meant to draw many closer to God does not seem to do that according the author of this book. I haven't read any other books about the Amish so I don't have anything else to compare this to.
Feb 27, 2013 Dawn rated it liked it
Recommended to Dawn by: Kerri D.
Shelves: cr-book-group
I read Growing Up Amish for my book club, and I found it very interesting. I was glad to learn more about Amish culture. I saw Amish when we lived in Ohio, but we live in Iowa now and I did not know that there are also Amish communities here. The community in which Ira grew up is actually located in southern Iowa. I was glad to learn more about the differences between Amish and Mennonite communities. The easiest difference for us outsiders to understand is simply that Mennonites use technology, ...more
Aug 05, 2011 Katie rated it liked it
This was a very quick and pretty absorbing read (I think I read it in a day!) about an Amish man who leaves his community for the big, bad wild world. Actually (MINOR SPOILERS HERE) he leaves repeatedly, which I wasn't expecting, and both makes the story more and less interesting at the same time. I was expecting it to be more of a single exodus and then we get to hear all about his life outside the community and how he adjusted and fit in over time. But instead he kept going back... and back ag ...more
Sep 21, 2011 Sally rated it it was ok
At times humorous, at times poignant, this is an easy book to read. Wagler grew up, the ninth of 11 children, in Amish communities in Ontario and Indiana. The Ontario community was more conservative and, after three of the children left the Amish, Wagler's father decided to move the family to the slightly more progressive Bloomfield, Indiana community. For Ira, however, it soon became apparent it wasn't enough. Perhaps it was in blood; Ira's maternal grandparents had left the Old Order many year ...more
Jul 16, 2011 Marlene rated it really liked it
Ira Wagler brings readers into the world of the Amish as he vividly describes being repeatedly tossed between the pull of familiar security in this life and the next, and beckoning possibilities of a culture of forbidden fruits. A lot to weigh at 17, the son of an iconic Amish writer. Nevertheless, walk away, he did, thus beginning a journey back and forth between divergent cultures as he fought to find a way to meld his beliefs with the ways of the “world.” Growing up deeply entrenched in rules ...more
Jennifer Wilson
Jun 13, 2011 Jennifer Wilson rated it really liked it
I felt a more appropriate name for “Growing Up Amish” would have been “Leaving the Amish”. I expected this memoir to be more about experiences as the author was a child, but I felt that instead he focused on the experience of trying to leave the Amish Church. Even so, it was an enjoyable read into the life of a culture that while they may live near me, I know little about them.

Ira Wagler was born in Canada as an Amish child. He recounts the moves, why they moved, and how the different Amish dist
Aug 02, 2014 Lynda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who reads Amish stories.
Shelves: amish
This could not have been an easy book to write because Mr. Wagler bares his soul in how difficult it was to decide to remain Amish or leave.

Even if you have read a lot of Amish novels including those that make the Old Order Amish sound so charming, you will learn things not part of those stories. Not just new terms but information what happens in the Amish church instruction classes.

Mr. Wagler confirms how different the various communities of the Amish can be and the power the Bishop of that c
Chuck O'Connor
Apr 06, 2012 Chuck O'Connor rated it it was ok
The memoir genre is an over-used one these days, so if an author chooses it, there needs to be a commitment to unique insight if the story is going to avoid self-indulgence. Wagler's work does not avoid this. The Tyndale published piece reads as one would expect a story developed by an Evangelical Christian publisher to read. It is tale filled with self-loathing declarations of sinfulness ultimately resolved in the emotional reasoning found in conventional salvation theology. Wagler had many opp ...more
Gail Welborn
Nov 09, 2012 Gail Welborn rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviews
In this heartwarming memoir readers join Ira Wagler, a young Amish boy on a journey of self-discovery that begins with his Amish Rumspringa and ends ten years later with a life-changing decision.

The account begins with Ira scribbling a note to tuck under his pillow before he packs all his worldly belongings into a small black duffel bag. Even though it’s a rite of passage all sixteen-year-old Amish boys experience, tradition requires Ira leave in the dark of night, with everyone asleep to avoid
Apr 08, 2012 Nenette rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A true story about finding one's self and salvation. I admire Ira Wagler for not ignoring the smallest, tiniest bit of doubt that he always carried; that nagging emptiness that he always felt even immediately after embarking on an action that he had before thought as the right thing to do. In that respect, he's a brave man. Unlike other people, Amish or not, he confronted his doubts head on, even if it meant leaving and returning to his fold numerous times. Until he found true peace and contentm ...more
Anna Fierce
Aug 09, 2012 Anna Fierce rated it liked it
Check out my blog for more extensive reviews and more!

PROS: I, like many Americans, have a strange fascination with the Amish people. They hold a level of intrigue and romance that we are drawn to. There were many interesting parts of this book as he shares his personal experiences with the Amish people and the struggles he faced when he decided to walk away.

CONS: Some of the narrative was a little disjointed it seemed. The rest of my complaints about this book are purely subjective. I was looki
Linda M
Jun 25, 2015 Linda M rated it liked it
A bit redundant, but an interesting read.

This was the part that I liked best. It explained why he kept leaving and returning. It seemed honest and resonated a chord within me.

"I loved these people. They were the salt of the earth and would have done anything for me. . . But we simply could not connect beyond a certain intellectual point. Not that they were stupid. They weren't. It's just that, well, their world was not mine. . . . And when we were together, bantering and talking, I sometimes fel
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Bookworm Bitches : November 2012: Growing Up Amish: A Memoir 25 217 Mar 03, 2013 03:31PM  
Madison Mega-Mara...: growing up amish 1 2 May 25, 2012 01:21PM  
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Ira Wagler was born in the small Old Order Amish community of Aylmer, Ontario. At 17, frustrated by the rules and restrictions of Amish life, Ira got up at 2 am, left a note under his pillow, packed his duffel bag and left. Over the course of the next 5 years, Ira would leave and return home numerous times, torn between the ingrained message that abandoning one's Amish heritage results in eternal ...more
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