Reviewed by Sarah McCubbin
Just a short drive from where we live is a large community of Amish. I’ve always wondered what life is truly like for them. So, my interest was piqued when I saw the book, Called to Be Amish: My Journey from Head Majorette to the Old Order by Marlene Miller. For an English person to join the Amish is exceedingly rare, and for someone to then share that story, even more so. Having lived as both English and Amish, Marlene writes knowing how the other half lives.
When she was growing up, Marlene and her siblings lived with their parents in a small Ohio town. While their home looked ordinary on the outside, it was actually a chaotic, dysfunctional existence. Her early memories include a lot of arguing, an alcoholic mother, a sometimes violent father and general discord all around. She did however have the opportunity to take dance lessons which she loved and which propelled her toward being a majorette.
While in high school, Marlene met Johnny one winter while ice skating. He didn’t go to her school though. He was Amish. When he and Marlene married, they did not join the Amish church but lived in a small trailer while he worked at a cheese factory. Despite being newly married and having a new baby, Marlene felt something was missing in her life.
The choice she makes to join the Amish church with her husband occurs simultaneously with her decision to follow Jesus. While she mentions that Johnny’s sister’s shared several Scriptures with her that influenced her decision, she did not give them in the book. Nor does she specify what she believed that led her to think that this was the best choice. Since many people come to faith in Jesus and do not choose to join the Amish, more information about her faith decision would have been helpful in understanding her choice.
It took an extended period of preparation and financial planning for them to make the transition to being Amish. When they had finally joined the church, their entire lives changed. They had different housing, transportation, food preparation and clothing, in addition to new traditions and rhythms of life. All of this she interweaves with stories from her marriage, children and community life. Overall, it was a very interesting read. I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in how the Amish live and especially how it contrasts to that of the English.
Sarah McCubbin is a homeschooling and foster mom in NE Ohio where she resides with her husband and 7 children. In addition to reading great books, she enjoys gardening, traveling and blogging at Living Unboxed.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Herald Pr. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.