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Mennonite Daughter: The Story of a Plain Girl

4.57  ·  Rating details ·  46 ratings  ·  39 reviews
What if the Mennonite life young Marian Longenecker chafed against offered the chance for a new beginning? What if her two Lancaster County homes with three generations of family were the perfect launch pad for a brighter future? Readers who long for a simpler life can smell the aroma of saffron-infused potpie in Grandma’s kitchen, hear the strains of four-part a capella m ...more
Paperback, 296 pages
Published 2019 by Spindletree Books
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Kathleen Pooler
Aug 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Mennonite Daughter is a heartwarming story of the author’s Mennonite roots, complete with photos, recipes, and sketches done by the author’s graphic artist husband, and told with a fresh, lilting voice. Yet underlying the bucolic picture of the Pennsylvania countryside that she masterfully paints of the characters and traditions that shaped her is her struggle with her father who was physically abusive. Throughout the story, the reader sees the sass and spunk of this eldest child who tends to pu ...more
Katherine Sartori
Aug 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
There’s a lot to like about Marian Longnecker Beaman’s memoir about her growing up years in Pennsylvania. As a tourist, I visited the Amish country in Lancaster where Marian lived, but I never learned about the Mennonites who also resided there. Until now.

Though I’m of the same generation as Marian, my growing up years in California in the 1950s & 1960s were quite different and yet I discovered some similarities.

I’ve always taken for granted the freedom I enjoyed as a teen, wearing “poofy” ski
Shirley Showalter
Aug 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
What do you think when you see a woman wearing a Mennonite prayer covering? "Though light as air, the prayer covering carried the weight of tradition," says author Marian Beaman, summarizing beautifully one of the most elusive symbols of female religious submission.

If you think you understand that symbol, you need to read this book. Author Marian Beaman complicates stereotypes, exposes double standards, and probes paradoxes of what it means to grow up Mennonite--especially if you are a whip-smar
D.G. Kaye
Aug 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Mennonite Daughter is a beautifully written story about the growing up life and aspirations of one feisty and longing-to-be fancy girl who although practicing her faith obediently, longs to be free from some of the conforms of the Mennonite lifestyle.

Beaman, a girl, not unlike any other girlie girl, striving for her chance at a life free from head coverings and traditional clothing, as her desires since childhood grow to break free from tradition. We learn a lot about the Mennonite way of life,
Laurie Buchanan
Aug 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I expected to find kindness in Marian Longenecker Beaman's memoir, MENNONITE DAUGHTER: THE STORY OF A PLAIN GIRL. And I did. The unexpected — abuse — came in gritty remembrances of a young girl's search for identity, one that isn't plain.

In this captivating look at a patriarchal culture, Beaman's writing imbues simple scenes with complex emotional undercurrents that kept me turning the pages right to the satisfying end. I highly recommend this book.
Darlene Foster
Dec 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this memoir of another time and way of life, written from the heart. The story is filled with love and laughter, as well as sad family truths. There is no such thing as a perfect family and the author handles the imperfections of her family well, without bitterness and resentment.

Although I was not raised in a Mennonite community, I could relate to much of this story. I laughed at the goofy uncles and large family get-togethers and recognized the frugal depression-era parents, the clo
Aug 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I don't know author Marian Beaman, at least not in person. But I’ve been reading her blog for more than a year, including her posts in which she explores the world she inhabited growing up Mennonite. I got hooked on her life story, and thus was looking forward to her memoir MENNONITE DAUGHTER: The Story of a Plain Girl. This book did not disappoint and even rose above my expectations. I fell into the life of the young Mennonite girl, Marian, as I read about her life of being "plain" while longin ...more
Kate Pill
Feb 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An honest and thoughtful insight.

This memoir is a thoughtful and honest reflection of one woman's experience growing up in the Mennonite faith. I enjoyed learning about Marian's experiences and her own "coming of age" as a young woman. I love learning about people who have lived differently to me - Marian's writing drew me into her life and the lives of those whom she held dear. Thoroughly recommend it!
Robbie Cheadle
Oct 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My mother calls me a people collector because I am so interested in people and their lives and I have a large circle of real and virtual friends of all ages, cultures, religions and interests. I also love reading about different peoples lives and experiences and I enjoy memoirs so when I saw this book which promised to give insight into the life of a young girl growing up in a Mennonite family I was delighted. This memoir certainly met my expectations and I was completely enthralled by the life ...more
Bette Stevens
Trials and Triumphs Abound!

Mennonite Daughter is a thoughtful and well-written memoir of growing up in a family whose faith required members to follow a simple and plain existence. Marian, however, even from a tender young age, loved and yearned for all that was fancy. Trials and triumphs abound as a young girl who seeks her father’s love and approval is disappointed again and again. I found it fascinating that Marian and I grew up in the 1950s and 60s and shared similar experiences although I
Melodie Davis
Sep 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love biographies, autobiographies, and memoir—including the memories of ordinary citizens. When we read a memoir, don’t most of us look for epiphanies and connections that may be similar to our own lives or upbringing?

Marian Longenecker Beaman’s debut book, Mennonite Daughter: The Story of a Plain Girl, takes the reader through early childhood events and memories—some of them funny and heartwarming and others that are painful: difficult to take and understand.

Early on I was drawn to Marian’s
Aug 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Marian Longenecker Beaman's memoir shares heartwarming vignettes of life in Lancaster County, PA. The author paints images with words of the joys and frustrations of growing up as a Mennonite. I visited Lancaster County several years ago. But I was not as aware of the Mennonites and their restrictions as I was of the Amish. So, some of Beaman's revelations were surprising to me. 
The author's use of detail in descriptions of people and places brought them to life. Thus, the reader feels an actua
Liesbet Collaert
This well-written memoir offers a fascinating and personal look into Mennonite culture, from the perspective of young Marian. How could I not snicker at phrases like “my ample-waisted aunt and rotund uncle“ or “my uncles had mirth to match their girth”? The author effortlessly weaves her stories and experiences together on these pages and provides insights into her Mennonite childhood with the emphasis on family values and dress code. Her joy about being at school and learning shines through and ...more
Aug 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Over the years, I’ve gotten to know author Marian Beaman through her blog on WordPress. Each week she shares snip-its of her life growing up in the Mennonite community in Pennsylvania. I especially enjoy her Aunt Ruthie’s diary excerpts. As a child, I visited the Amish country in Lancaster, but I didn’t know much about the Mennonites, so her blog has taught me so much. When I learned Marian planned to write a memoir, I anxiously awaited its publication. Marian’s memoir MENNONITE DAUGHTER: The St ...more
E.J. Bauer
Feb 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I do love a book that opens my eyes to a different faith and way of living. I must admit I knew little of the Mennonites and was intrigued with the way the author accepted many of their tenets for plain living, but also admitted to liking pretty clothes. I loved the description of all the wonderful celebratory food and would have loved to be in the family kitchen during the preparations for Thanksgiving. A final parting from her family's church did not mean the author abandoned her beliefs. Rath ...more
Susan Weidener
Sep 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One might say that Marian Longenecker Beaman’s memoir, Mennonite Daughter: The Story of a Plain Girl, serves as a template for woman finding voice through writing. Written half a century after the events depicted, the author was charged with the painstaking work of going back in time―a time fraught with memories requiring a careful analysis of her main characters and her reactions and responses to them as a young girl, growing up in the 1950s as a Mennonite in Pennsylvania’s Lancaster County. Sh ...more
Sep 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In this touching memoir of her life growing up in a Mennonite community and later coming to the decision that she would leave the church, but not her relationship with God, Marian Longenecker Beaman touches on many common elements of a young woman’s coming of age story, such as patriarchy, agency, and culture.

Through her strong personality and her struggle to understand why?, Marian gradually comes to accept the life she is meant to lead, and realizes that she carries forward into her new life m
Sep 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I long anticipated this book, as Ms Longanecker Beaman brought readers to her blog along with her in a 6 year process of planning and preparing. Oooh, the sensory impressions! And, they are sprinkled with lots of humor and all united under a story arc and themes.

I was magically transported into this multi-generation Lancaster Mennonite family. Going to a family reunion, "All my aunts were shaped like pears, and my uncles like apples, except for lean Uncle Clyde." (79)

My heart hurts at the ways
Nancy  Price
Jan 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received a copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway.

I've read a number of Amish/Mennonite novels and have visited the Lancaster area several times, so I was familiar with many of the unique characteristics of the Mennonite church, but I enjoyed reading this memoir about growing up as a Mennonite. Although my own childhood was very different, there were some incidents that brought back similar memories of growing up in the late 1950's, particularly those about the scissors sharpener, the Fulle
April Yamasaki
Dec 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I was immediately drawn in by the prologue that tells how Marian as a young school teacher was called before the bishops, and of course I just had to skip forward to read the rest of that story near the end of the book. Only then was I ready to go back and start at the beginning. For those of us plain or fancy, Mennonite or not, there's lots to love in this book--how one woman looks back on her life with compassion and even forgiveness for those who have wronged her, how she grows to accept her ...more
Nancy Chadwick
Sep 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Mennonite Daughter is wonderfully written! Beaman leaves nothing out when telling of her coming-of-age story in a Mennonite family as she finds her way through her roots to become the person she's wanted to be. Depicted with emotions and fears, challenges and rewards, her story is authentic. I enjoyed seeing the well-placed photos, especially the ones in the back of the book, and even reading the recipes! Though she considered herself a plain girl, Beaman was far from it in Mennonite Daughter.

Joan Rough
Sep 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Gifted storyteller, Marian Beaman, tells us in beautifully descriptive words, about growing up Mennonite and how she moved beyond church restrictions to become the strong and beautiful woman she had dreamed of as a child. It's a love letter to life, filled with innocence, faith, family, and feminist values, despite her father's continuous disapproval of a spirited, willful, and independent daughter. ...more
Sandra McKenna
Nov 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
A very interesting memoir.
Firstly, I have to admit to a total ignorance of the Mennonite culture.
Marian has penned an informative and easy to read story detailing her strict upbringing and close-knit family, in their home county of Lancaster in Pennsylvania.
Wanda Adams
Feb 07, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Marian Longnecker Beaman's book is more than a memoir: It's the story of patience, perseverance and potential. As a child in the Mennonite faith, Marian knew no other life. She followed what her parents and previous generations had done before her. She wore modest clothing and the prayer cap covering her head, denoting her as a member of the Mennonite faith. The author deftly explains the origins of the Mennonites as a part of the Anabaptist movement, originating from Zurich, Switzerland, in 153 ...more
A. Piper Burgi
Mar 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Ms. Marian Beaman's memoir shares the heartwarming story of a spunky plain girl that longs to be fancy. She paints images with her words of the happiness and disappointments associated with growing up as a Mennonite in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Although I was aware of the Mennonites and some of the restrictions they place on their church members, the author's revelations were unexpected. Her vividly detailed portraits of people and places brought them to life. It was almost as if I was an ...more
Amy Bovaird
Mar 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Mennonite Daughter, by Marian Beaman, was an absolute delight to read! I live several hours away in another area of Pennsylvania, so her book intrigued me. The one family vacation we took was to Lancaster so before reading her memoir, I was somewhat familiar with the area.
Surprisingly, the author used the physical homes in her childhood home and also that of her grandmother’s close by as a technique and a framework for her storytelling. When she opened the doors to various rooms, the stories em
Lucinda J Kinsinger
Oct 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
I fully enjoyed Mennonite Daughter by Marian Beaman, especially because there were so many experiences I could relate to my own. Footwashing, wearing a covering, communion twice a year, a stern circle of Mennonite men reproving her for her dress style--while I never actually experienced that last one, I know of another woman who did, so I "get" the intimidation and emotional upset such a reproach would bring.

While both of us were born into Mennonite homes, unlike me, Marian chose to leave the d
Sep 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Marian Beaman's sincerity comes through with every word. Her integrity as a human being and the love with which she was surrounded in her childhood found its way into every sentence. The struggle of her life therefore comes with a full background of why this was so painful for her.
We learn much about the geography of her homeworld as well as her love of nature as we move sedately through her descriptions of her growing years.
A lovely warm rendition of the Mennonite community and their customs,
James C
Jun 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent read! So many memories! Marian writes with vivid imagery. The elder women in this story touched so many lives and enriched all who met them.
Where Marian Beaman trod many would follow in decades to come, completely changing the complexion of churches in the Lancaster Mennonite Conference, now unrecognisable compared to the strict rules and regulations especially held for women in the time period of this work. A work of the heart. So glad she found her red shoes!
Oct 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I was fascinated to read about Marian’s Mennonite upbringing. Her way of sharing and showing the details about ‘plain’ clothes and plain living puts the reader into the scenes with Marian. Her journey from Plain to Fancy kept me turning the pages of this memoir!
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Marian Longenecker Beaman is a former professor at Florida State College in Jacksonville, Florida. Her memoir, Mennonite Daughter: The Story of a Plain Girl, records the charms and challenges of Mennonite girlhood in mid-twentieth century Pennsylvania. The writer’s formative years coincided with the decade before which the Lancaster Conference of the Mennonite Church experienced major change, espe ...more

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