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Out of This World: A Journey of Healing
by Mary Swander (Goodreads Author)
When a severe allergic illness dictates that she grow all her own food, Mary Swander finds herself living in a former one-room schoolhouse in the midst of the largest Amish community west of the Mississippi. In this simple yet profound memoir, she shares her experiences as she explores what it means to be a lone woman homesteader at the end of the 20th century, discovering ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published July 1st 1996 by Penguin Books
(first published July 1st 1995)
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Mary Swander is a poet first, and this is reflected in her beautifully written prose. While dealing with a debilitating case of environmental illness the author chose to treat it by living as organically as possible, which led to her moving to a small Amish farming community in Iowa. Her lyrical descriptions of the everyday lifted this beyond dull and boring to a lovely little book.
I'm tagging this book with "disability" and "Christianity" labels because it's about a Catholic woman with Environmental Illness (also called Multiple Chemical Sensitivity) who moves to an Amish community to find relief from her medical symptoms--but the author's reflections, presented in mini-essays, mostly center on the plants she grows and the animals she raises. Amish neighbors make appearances but are not the book's focus, and the author's thoughts on medical recovery, life with an invisibl ...more
Let's clear something up—this book is not really about Amish living. Yes, its author, Mary Swander, developed a debilitating food allergy and moved to the outskirts of an Amish community in order to grow her own food and thus survive, but you won't get the ins and outs of barn-raising and whatnot here. What you get is just as good, though. Her memoir skips around a lot, drawing lessons from various mishaps and celebrations she experiences living in her new home, or from her earlier days living i ...more
Okay, I'll be honest, I didn't finish this book. Not even close. The copy that I had from the library (which I think was an older copy) was a little misleading. Instead of it saying "a journey of healing", it said "one woman living among the Amish", which was actually more of why I got it. It was pretty okay what I read, a woman struggling and surviving a life with Environmental Illness, but I think it was written a little like a journal, and it jumped all over the place. I'm sure it was very th ...more
Mary Swander describes how Environmental Illness affected and ultimately re-formed every aspect of her life. To escape the noxious fumes and various physical substances that threaten her health, she relocates to a rural area of Iowa where most of the residents are Amish. As her health restores itself, she finds a home for herself among people whose beliefs and practices are quite different from hers. Themes of grief and healing weave throughout the stories.
I could not get past a few chapters. The author, about whom the book is, not about the Amish, is far too narcissistic and histrionic, reminding me of clients with Munchausen's Syndrome! I grew to dislike her more, with each paragraph. If I had purchassed this book, it would go in the trash. Unfortunately, it is a library book, so will return to sit on the shelf.