AN AMISH FAMILY by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor


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Stripping away all preconceptions about the picturesque Amish, Naylor introduces the Stolzfus family of Intercourse, Pennsylvania which perseveres in its plain life against the pressures of what the Amish call the "gay" world. The strength and happiness of the Amish way are best expressed on important family and community occasions -- a wedding, a funeral, a barn raising. But Naylor doesn't skirt the problems that the order's rules present to individuals -- a boy must hide his copy of Profiles in Courage in the hayloft or risk being accused of "chair-mindedness"; a cousin who has taken up worldly ways is "shunned" and must be mourned as dead (worse, members who want to remain within the order may also be "shunned" if they commit some serious infraction); and both women and men are expected to form stable, very traditional marriages -- a pressure that may account for the fact that most Amish suicides occur among young married men. More surprising, Naylor takes us to a barn dance to show that some Amish groups tolerate youthful rowdiness to the point of permitting gambling and drinking at these unchaperoned outings (intellectual curiosity is considered more of a threat to stability than the sowing of wild oats). Yet despite the number of Amish youth who surreptitiously own cars, the majority seem content to adopt the plain life style. And the biggest threat to the Stolzfus' and their neighbors is not dissatisfaction from within, but the mushrooming tourist industry which has sent land values skyrocketing. This unromanticized family shows both the narrowness and inconsistencies of the Amish tradition, and the survival of a stable, supportive community life that most of us can only imagine.
Pub Date: March 1st, 1975
ISBN: 0848801091
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: O'Hara
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1975


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