Plain Secrets: An Outsider among the Amish, by Joe Mackall

A professor and writer, Joe Mackall has lived in Amish country in Ohio for more than sixteen years.  In writing (with permission)  about his friendship with his neighbors, Samuel and Mary, he is able to go “behind the scenes” to explore the lives of the Swartzentruber Amish, the most conservative Amish sect.  While still an outsider, as a friend, he learns more about the lifestyle of this sect–both its appeal and its rigidity–and gets closer to the heart of it than most of us ever could.  His affection for his neighbors comes through, as he admires “their connection to the land and devotion to family.”  But he also observes the restrictions of Amish life, exemplified by his friendship with Jonas, a nephew of Samuel’s who left the Amish, yet faces many difficulties establishing a new life in an environment vastly different from the community he left.

Rating:  *** A good read
Reviewed by:  stc

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