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Reviewed by Lela Buchanan for Readers' Favorite
Life is filled with challenges for most of us, but how many of us can claim to have grown up as part of an experimental Amish settlement in the country of Honduras dressed in Amish pants, suspenders and a straw hat? Jerry S. Eicher chronicles that very journey in a heartfelt and painfully honest autobiography, "My Amish Childhood." Unlike many adults who have grown up within the structured confines of conservative, religious legalism, Eicher does not vilify those factors. From the vantage point of maturity, he understands the inner struggle the church faced, that is, how to be "in the world, but not of the world." What would have held no attraction for the outside world in the states, was magnetic to the local people in Honduras, presenting a dilemma for the Amish people. "How do you reconcile the preservation of the past with a vibrant Christian witness in the present?" Woven into this fascinating glimpse behind the closed doors of the Amish culture is the story of a young boy's struggles to find a viable identity in spite of an emotionally debilitating stutter. icher writes: "Stuttering is a physical defect that shatters the ego. . . Communication is one of the essentials of human survival."
"My Amish Childhood" will help us answer many questions that the outside world may have about the inner workings of this separatist group of people. This powerful story is genuine and realistic, without artifice. I was profoundly moved by the inner odyssey of this young "misfit" as he struggled to find a sense of self-worth and validation. Even if unable to understand much of the lifestyle regulations, you will find yourself relating to many of Jerry's feelings, and celebrating with him as he ultimately finds his validation in God.