Growing Up Amish
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Growing Up Amish

3.36 of 5 stars 3.36  ·  rating details  ·  6,604 ratings  ·  749 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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Megan
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...more
Jaclyn Day
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
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
Ryan Mercer
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...more
Nancy
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
Jean-françois Virey
"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.
Never.
Ever.
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...more
Jackie
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...more
Lyndi
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Annie
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
Laura
Title: GROWING UP AMISH
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...more
Sam
This biography tells the story of Wagler's Amish upbringing and his struggle between the comfort of his traditional life on one hand and the freedom of the outside world in the other hand.

This memoir was an enjoyable read and was pacy enough to keep the pages turning quickly (I finished it in two sittings). Wagler's life was covered in chronological order and I particularly enjoyed the sections about his childhood. As a primary school teacher who often bemoans the amount of gadgets children have...more
Mark Nenadov
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...more
Meredith
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
Jessica
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.
Gail Welborn
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...more
Marlene
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
Robin
I enjoyed this book for a multitude of reasons. One big reason is the insight provided by Mr. Wagler of what the Amish life is like. There was a complete honesty and simplicity in his thinking about home. The question always before him was can he ever really leave home. The bigger and greater reason for staying with his story was the triumphant end - coming to a Christ who is home and salvation. It is a true prodigal coming home as many are going home to the Christ who saves. The saddest thing w...more
Sally
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
Nenette
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
Katie
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
Kirsten
This book is a fast read, but at the same time full of meaning. It is the real story of Ira Wagler's struggle with belonging in neither the Amish world nor the English world, and his journeys back and forth between them over a ten year period. He starts at 16 and ends at about 25. He goes so far as to actually leave the faith, and return to the faith asking to have his excommunication lifted. It's a real eye-opener on faith, on the Amish ways, and on the sense of belonging/never belonging. I lov...more
Chuck O'Connor
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
Dawn
Feb 27, 2013 Dawn rated it 3 of 5 stars
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
Katie Tatton
I've always been fascinated by the quiet, methodical lives of the Amish and was pleased to find this memoir at my library. I'd hoped to read an account of simplistic joys and virtue but instead found a bitter diary of how entirely impossible it is to be both Amish and happy. I should have known that a book written by someone who'd chosen to leave his church wouldn't reflect well on that church. I think the author's unhappiness stems more from cold and distant parents than from any religious expe...more
Lisa
This was a fascinating look into the workings of the Amish church. As a slightly less than conventional Christ follower, I was comparing and contrasting my experiences with his throughout the book. I'm no Amish woman -- I love me some technology -- but the attitudes of the church and how it comes together in times of need were really interesting for me.

The fact that Wagler eventually left the Amish fold for good and has been writing a blog for several years (www.irawagler.com) put another twist...more
Homeschoolmama
What annoys me a lot about books is when the title doesn't exactly reflect what the book is about. Here is another example of that. I expected Wagler's memoir to be about growing up Amish, what it was like to grow up in that culture, day to day living, beliefs, etc.. It touched on those things, but mostly it seemed to be about running away from the Amish. It may have been more aptly titled, "Running w/Suspenders" :P

I gave it four stars though b/c I liked his writing. And his story. He was brutal...more
Dale
Loved this book. I stumbled upon it after watching the National Geographic documentary "Amish: Out of Order" which I thought was well done and charitable towards both the Amish and the English.

This book gave an insight into the struggle and heartache of a young man's life growing up Amish. I learned a lot more about the Amish and their church having read it. I'm grateful the author paints others in a gracious light but shows all his own failings with honesty.

marymurtz
Wow, really? The publisher describes this book as "heartwarming" but it's anything but that.

Fascinating in parts, yes. But depressing as well. The book description makes it sound like he makes a clean break from the Amish life at 17, but it is a long process and it was sobering to learn something that a lot of people don't realize, and that is the fact that the Amish are a religious sect, not just a bunch of people who don't drive cars or have electricity.

The book delves very deeply into the re...more
Danielle


I have always been fascinated by the Amish. Like many others have watched documentaries about Rumspringa and wild Amish youth forming my impressions about a culture that does not let in the outside world. I didn't realize how many Amish communities existed and how unique they all are with different rules about dress, tools, and transportation.

This book wasn't exactly what I expected, but the theme of the book resonated with me as I think it would for many others. The core story seems to be abo...more
Melody
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
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Bookworm Bitches : November 2012: Growing Up Amish: A Memoir 25 214 Mar 03, 2013 03:31PM  
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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
More about Ira Wagler...
Growing Up Amish Growing Up Amish, A Memoir (Book Club Edition)

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