To Be or Not to Be Amish

Book - 2006
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A revelatory look at Amish youth as they have never been looked at before Rumspringais a fascinating look at a little-known Amish coming-of-age ritual, therumspringa--the period of "running around" that begins for their youth at age sixteen. Through vivid portraits of teenagers in Ohio and Indiana, Tom Shachtman offers an account of Amish life as a mirror to the soul-searching and questing that we recognize as a generally intrinsic part of adolescence. The trappings of the Amish way of life--the "plain" clothes and electricity-free farms--conceal the communities' mystery: how they manage to retain their young people and perpetuate themselves generation after generation. The key to this is therumspringa, when Amish youth are allowed to live outside the bounds of their faith, experimenting with alcohol, premarital sex, trendy clothes, telephones, drugs, and wild parties. By allowing them such freedom, their parents hope they will learn enough to help them make the most important decision of their lives--whether to be baptized as Christians, join the church, and forever give up worldly ways, or to remain out in the world. In this searching book, Shachtman draws on his skills as a documentarian to capture young people on the cusp of a fateful decision, and to give us an original and deeply affecting portrait of the Amish as a whole.
Publisher: New York : North Point Press, 2006
Edition: 1st ed. --
ISBN: 9780865476875
Branch Call Number: 305.23508828973 Sha 3558ad 1
Characteristics: 286 p


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KarenE61 Jul 29, 2015

This book was the basis for "The Devil's Playground," a movie about Amish teens during their Rumspringa (Rumshpringe). Even if you saw the movie-- particularly if you saw the movie--I recommend reading the book. Unfortunately, the film chose the sensationalist route, emphasizing the worst behavior and making it appear that nearly all Amish teens spend their running-around time smoking, drinking, and doing drugs. The book presents a much more balanced and accurate picture of this important time in an Amish "youngie's" life.

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