Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Book Review: "I Am Hutterite" by Mary-Ann Kirkby

I cannot even begin to convey to you how wonderful this book is.  An autobiography that reads like a novel, I Am Hutterite is Mary-Ann Kirkby's literary tribute to her heritage.  We are taken on a fascinating journey through the lives of the author's grandparents, parents, and of course, herself and her siblings.  An in-depth look at the Hutterite lifestyle often has the reader reminding themselves that these events are occurring in fairly recent times and not over a century ago.  Touchingly describing family relationships, the busy-ness of community living, and the benefits of honest, simple worship can make one wonder if living in such a plain way has its merits over the technology-ridden, rushing here and there, commercial ways of the 'English.'  Like anything in life, everything has its down side, and this is what causes the author's parents to do something rarely done--leave the colony to make it in the outside world. The experiences related thereafter will hit home with anyone who has ever longed to fit in.

When I saw the cover of this book, I assumed that the Hutterites were similar to the Amish.  While there are certain similarities, they are indeed of a very different ilk.  The author uses beautiful prose and poignant humor to help us understand what it means to be Hutterite, and how their differences can lead to misunderstanding, and sometimes contempt, in the outside world.  I have very few negative things to say about this book.  First (and truly through no fault of the author), there are so many people and family members that it can get a bit confusing--I would recommend a pencil and paper to keep the names straight.  Second, the ending of the book seemed rather abrupt.  We are taken to a certain point in the author's acclimation to the outside world, and then left to wonder about the rest. I would have liked to have read about how she met her husband--was it awkward to date outside of the way she knew?  Did she attend college? Was there culture shock related to it?  Are there any remnants of her Hutterite lifestyle that she carries with her daily and not just when she returns to visit?  I would have enjoyed reading about how she became the well-adjusted adult that you perceive through these pages after experiencing such a unique childhood.  Otherwise, this book is truly a remarkable read, and I would fully recommend this touching story.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

1 comment:

  1. Hi, I liked your review...though I don't think I enjoyed it as much as you did! I was born and raised in a Hutterite colony, and actually still live in one. I have contacted the author of I Am Hutterite and we have been talking about doing an interview on my blog. But I'm not sure when and how that'll happen as we disagree on quite a few issues concerning the book and the Hutterites in general. We'll see, I guess? I have my personal review of this book posted on my blog. Check it out if you can find the time...



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