CROSSING OVER by Ruth Irene Garrett


One Woman’s Escape from Amish Life
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A young woman who ran away from her Old Order family to marry the man she loved critiques the customs, beliefs, and childrearing practices of this ultra-strict Amish group.

Raised on a farm in Iowa, Garrett briefly describes the history of the Amish and their way of life before relating how in 1996 she eloped with Ottie Garrrett and moved to Kentucky. The Old Order Amish, who fled religious persecution in Germany in the 18th century, do not own cars or use telephones or electricity. The women must wear long, dark dresses held together by pins (buttons are considered a sign of vanity) and cover their heads at all times. Education ends in the eighth grade; the children then work on the family farms. The religion preaches rigid adherence to the Bible (men are the head of the house, children must obey their parents) and punishes transgressors by shunning or excommunication. The fifth of seven children, 15-year-old Ruth met much older Ottie in 1989, when he came into town for a visit. Her grandfather asked the visitor to chauffeur the local Amish, who did not drive themselves but did take automobile trips to see families and sights. Recently graduated from school and determined not to marry an Amish man—she saw her father’s dictatorial treatment of her mother as typical—the young girl was soon attracted to Ottie. The feeling was mutual, and they married in defiance of her family and the community, which called all outsiders “the English” and regarded them as depraved. Garrett describes her family’s hurtful reactions and her halting adjustment to the outside world: she bought dresses without trying them on because she did not know that stores provided fitting rooms. Excommunicated by the Amish, she found in the local Lutheran church a warm welcome and a loving God.

Simply told, more in sorrow than in anger: a personal chronicle of the darker side of faith and family.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-06-052992-X
Page count: 208pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 2002


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