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Why I Left the Amish

3.35 of 5 stars 3.35  ·  rating details  ·  300 ratings  ·  81 reviews
There are two ways to leave the Amish—one is through life and the other through death. When Saloma Miller Furlong’s father dies during her first semester at Smith College, she returns to the Amish community she had left twenty four years earlier to attend his funeral. Her journey home prompts a flood of memories. Now a mother with grown children of her own, Furlong recalls ...more
Paperback, 190 pages
Published January 1st 2011 by Michigan State University Press
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Ms. Furlong is brutally honest in this memoir. Incest, physical abuse, and animal cruelty all make their appearances.

I got a kick out of the digs she'd sometimes slip in about her parents. Several times Mem's wide girth, "large hips nearly filling the doorway", and Det's lack of intelligence (and teeth) are mentioned. It's clear she still (understandably, they were rotten parents) holds a grudge.

It was interesting reading about her Amish upbringing, and her family that was dysfunctional even by
(this book was recommended to me by the author)

This memoir reminds of "The glass castle" - a family life that is so astoundingly dysfunctional that one fears to believe it's true. I don't doubt that its true, and I'm impressed that the author seems to have as much love and forgiveness as she has (as opposed to the bitterness I found in "Growing up Amish").

That being said, I found this compelling story hard to read - and not for the subject matter. Written in a semi flashback method, I found the
Rachelle Urist
WHY I LEFT AMISH, a memoir, is written by a courageous woman who has a good story to tell but lacks the finesse to make the book anything more than a competent chronicle. The book needs considerable editing, but since it’s already in print, it’s too late. Nevertheless, the story reveals life behind the Amish curtain, which is edifying. The author’s father was not an exemplar of the best of Amish tradition. He was brutish, her elder brother sadistic, and the violence inflicted on the children, pa ...more
This is a very compelling memoir. No-one in their right mind could really fault the author for leaving the Amish after reading this---she grew up in a household that would be dysfunctional in any culture, and it sounds like she has had a good life after an awful childhood, and I am glad of that.

The writing is a bit stiff here. Sometimes, there are so many details about something fairly unrelated to the main story that it gets frustrating, and sometimes, there are mere mentions of issues that se
I am from Lancaster county, Pennsylvania. It is normal to see Amish people where I live since there is a pretty big population here. However, even though I was born and raised here, I don't know much about the Amish other than the little bits my dad told me.

I read this book because the author of it was coming to the Hershey library. I missed her visit, however, I still wanted to read her book. Since I don't know much about Amish life, I did learn a lot from reading her book. I think, more than a
What is it about the Amish culture and religion that intrigues us? Is it the romance of a simpler lifestyle? The pastoral scenes of horse drawn buggies with barefoot children in quaint clothing? Their self-sufficiency and industrious work ethic? Unless we live among or work beside the Amish we probably don't have a realistic picture of what it means to be Amish. Thanks to Saloma Miller Furlong we move in with and sit elbow to elbow with one Amish family. We share their family life and are introd ...more
The writing was pretty difficult for me to read at times, especially the choppy dialogue. But overall the book was okay, and I'm glad I finished reading it even though I seriously considered stopping four or five times during the first 100 pages.
This dragged a little at times but overall was a very compelling memoir of a woman who grew up in a dysfunctional Amish family and finally broke free and left on her own. Saloma's father was abusive, her mother was an enabler of that abuse, and her brother committed incest against both her and her sisters, getting her younger sister pregnant with an incestuous baby. The community knew of these atrocities but did nothing. The Amish were painted a very bad light in this book. There is emphasis on ...more
Growing up in a dysfunctional family, Saloma Furlong faced a hard choice - endure the abuse or leap across a big cultural gap to the outside world... in this memoir, she poignantly describes her pain as well as her successful transition and eventual reconciliation with her family.

Furlong draws you in with familiar images of Amish life... but goes on to reveal serious social problems that other more romanticized accounts of the Amish neglect.

This is a remarkable and gripping memory of a female g
I genuinely don't understand people flipping out about how hard it is to keep track of the characters in this book. I found it easy and straightforward, so maybe other readers were just skimming too quickly? Who knows. I also didn't see the problem with editing that other reviewers described. There are FAR worse memoirs with terrible organization. This wasn't the best or most brilliant memoir I've ever read, sure, but it was good. The story was engaging (and horrifying), and the action kept goin ...more
Johanna Ruth
I found this story a difficult one at first, as I have an abuse history and it was hard to read the details of Saloma's abuse. Being brought forward into her life at the time she was a Smith College student helped to keep my balance. Her discussions with her son about Amish customs helped the balance and the way her old community received her at her father's funeral felt healing.

Saloma's stories have started me on a journey of finding out about Amish communities, the range of styles and customs
Miller Furlong is not the most polished writer, but she did provide a portrait of Amish life that showed chinks in the idyllic armor. I was particularly interested in how mental illness was dealt with in her Amish community.
This is the autobiograpy of Saloma Miller Furlong. First, I jsut want to say that her family is a mess and this is not just a problem in the Amish. However, the problems are magnified due to the structure of their society/religion.
From the time they are born, women are controlled by men. The males in the religion decide everything including how women dress and act.
Saloma's family had a difficult time as her father had mental health issues and maybe a developemntal disability. He has big depres

This memoir presents the remarkable story of Saloma, a woman who was raised in a dysfunctional Amish family. I was impressed with her ability to constantly push for a better life for herself and her family, even though she eventually had to choose between the two. Just as the author in the book "Growing Up Amish", Saloma must ultimately make the break from the Amish world on her own. This book is less a book about the Amish world than really an inspiring story of reaching for your goals and lea
After reading so many Amish love stories, this was definitely a harsher look into the Amish world. Saloma experiences many abuses growing up in a society where members tend to look the other way when one of their own is doing wrong. I am amazed that after being abused by her older brother that she can even be around him nowadays. While I'm all for grace and forgiveness, I can't help but feel that a man like that needs to be locked away. I hope he really has changed and isn't hurting anyone else. ...more
Saloma Miller's life may have looked idyllic from the outside, but in reality, it was not. You might say that her family was dysfunctional and then some. Many people probably think that Amish society is mostly hard work, sunshine, and a peaceful existence. Not always true. They have their problems, perhaps even more so since they've chosen a different and separate lifestyle.

How does Saloma cope? In this memoir, she recounts events, her highs and lows, and the ever present struggle to fit into th
David Crumm
A Remarkably Wise and Grace-Filled Memoir

Millions of Americans met Saloma Miller Furlong in PBS’s two-hour American Experience documentary: The Amish. In one short vignette within the two-hour film, viewers heard from Saloma, saw photos from several points throughout her life and learned what leaving the Amish felt like for her—in short, very painful yet also liberating.

Even at the generous length of two hours, Saloma's real story is more complex than PBS and its expert narrators like Kraybill c
Very real life account of being brought up in an Amish community, with a mentally ill father and a dysfunctional family. Many of the problems she experienced were the same as anyone else's rotten childhood. She does not dwell on the everyday Amish life; there are no long passages about churnng butter or perfecting her bread baking. Often the community as a whole was difficult to picture, because abuse seems to look and act upon children in a universal way- low self esteem, helplessness, trust is ...more
This book was recommended to me by the author, after she read my review for Unorthodox, on Goodreads. I decided to take her advice, and ordered the book. It is about the life of young Saloma Miller who grows up with a Father who has mental capabilities that are less than those of the average individual, and a Mother who looks the other way as her daughters are abused physically, sexually, and emotionally very roughly by their older brother and very harshly beaten by their Father. The memoir tak ...more
This is not just a curiosity piece, like Wagler's Growing Up Amish. This woman can really write, and piece by piece, she puts together a very hard look at the way Amish treat the disabled, deal with issues of domestic abuse and incest, and the way that intellectualism is stamped out hard, the way you would a dish towel that lands flaming on the kitchen floor.

Before reading this book, I felt a sympathy too strong a word? Maybe it is...for the Amish. I had read in various places that
Gentle, kind, down-to-earth, live simply - so many words similar to these come to my mind when I think of the Amish. There are many books out now about the Amish and they continue your feelings of pleasant people who care for all of those in their community.

Why I Left the Amish gives you a view into the darker side. All is not sweetness and light and their communities have problems, also. Saloma grew up Amish with two brothers and four sisters. Her father had a dark side. He was depressed and al
Look at the sweet little girl on the cover and be glad she is a happily married mother with a Smith College degree working in the German Department and European Studies Program at Amherst College and not still with her dysfunctional family in an Amish community setting. Granted, you could come from a dysfunctional family no matter what, but add on the, to me, strange rules that must be followed according to their way of life and you've got a pretty miserable existence, especially for a woman. Fo ...more
i was excited when i saw this was the book for the july meeting of my library's book club, which i was finally going to join. i'm curious about the amish and thought i would enjoy this book.
i couldn't deal with the writing. i got about a third of the way through it and it seemed like it was just telling the same things over and over again and i thought to myself, "self - you have a limited time in which to read an unlimited number of books. use it wisely." then i stopped reading this.
(i a
Shirley Brosius
This memoir offers a chilling glimpse into what can happen when dogma trumps love and commonsense. Saloma Miller Furlong offers a picture of a dysfunctional family at its worst, and it is not a pretty picture.

The author grew up in an Amish family in Ohio and demonstrated tremendous courage by leaving familiar surroundings to enter a vastly different culture where she hoped to find safety and peace.

Furlong shares personal details of abuse and its impact on her life. She elaborates on the dating
I enjoyed reading this book although it was a little hard to read because it is her personal story and the things she went through were difficult. I don't want to give to much away. I recommend this book to everyone. It really shows you that what you think you know is not always the case. It definitely opened my eyes.

A passage I wanted to share is this:


"I thought I would die of shame and indignation. Bishop Dan was giving us a vote about whether Datt should confess sitting or kneeling! If s
I really enjoyed reading Saloma's story. At times, the storyline was a bit muddled and events happened in a confusing manner. Perhaps the book was over edited or needed another comb over. Either way, the honesty of Saloma's experience makes the book a good read.
Even Amish families can be dysfunctional, and Soloma Miller's family certainly was. The only thing is, in Amish families, it is a lot harder to leave. Saloma did just that, and tells about the experience in this book. A very interesting, really sad book.
N.R. Williams
"Why I left the Amish," is a well written book and it will shock you. The only place were it lagged was when their was a get together and she listed all the names. But it is a memoir and this is her family.

Saloma was in an abusive family, suffered many things and was brave enough to leave. If you're interested in women who break free of abuse, you should read it. If you're interested in religion, you should read it. If you care about children, you should read it. If I could I'd give it a ten.

Lisa  Marie
This one is hard for me to rate. I usually avoid books that involve such abuse because I have a hard time reading it. I would say the first half of the book took me a LOT to get through. It seemed a bit repetitive at parts and I will admit I almost stopped reading it. I'm glad I didn't because after that, it picked up and became more of the book I thought it would be. The second half of the book was really good. I'm glad I got to learn more about the insight of the Amish, despite this - hopefull ...more
Pam Fullem
To be honest, I thought I would learn a lot more about the Amish life/culture than I did. I did learn some things and the rational for some of their traditions were explained. However, it was really more a book about and very dysfunctional, abusive family, where even sexual abuse occurred and the patriarch of the family was mentally ill. Ms. Furlong was right to leave the situation. Too bad that the social system protected and hid the abuse instead of protecting the children. Any system that sup ...more
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Saloma Miller Furlong is the author of the memoir Why I Left the Amish and Bonnet Strings: An Amish Woman's Ties to Two Worlds. Her story is featured in the PBS documentaries "The Amish" and "The Amish: Shunned" on American Experience.

She was born and raised in an Amish community in Ohio. Driven by her desire for freedom and more formal education, She broke away from her community –– not once, bu
More about Saloma Miller Furlong...
Bonnet Strings: An Amish Woman's Ties to Two Worlds Why I Left the Amish: A Memoir

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