Guest Post: Leaving the Amish by Alice Wisler
This morning, I’m pleased to welcome Alice Wisler. Her new novel Still Life in Shadows takes a different path when it comes to Amish fiction.
What happens when we leave everything we’ve ever known? What happens when we go against what we’ve been taught and the only family we have?
“Out here in the world, you leave the Amish, you are on your own,” says Mose Gingerich, an ex-Amish man who left his home in Wisconsin for Columbia, Missouri. Now he helps youth leave their sheltered communities, calling himself an Ex-Amish Underground Railroad. He says the young men and women leave their Amish communities for a variety of reasons, some due to wanting more religious freedom, others wanting to further their education beyond the standard Amish eighth grade level.
Mose was my inspiration for my new novel, Still Life in Shadows. After watching his pilot documentary on TV over a year ago, I was motivated to write a novel based on him. In my book, Gideon Miller helps dissatisfied Amish youth relocate to a little quaint town in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, Twin Branches. But when Moriah, his own baby brother comes to town, suddenly Twin Branches isn’t such a peaceful place. Moriah has too many demons to deal with and Gideon can’t keep track of him. Thirteen-year-old Kiki, who thinks Moriah is the most handsome man she’s ever seen, wants to help, but finds it hard to deal with the man’s sporadic behavior.
The National Geographic series, Amish: Out of Order, has aired on TV for two months now. To the shock of many, people are finding that the Amish lifestyle is not all apple butter, beautiful quilts, and buggies. There are deep-rooted emotions many Amish face. In his memoir, Growing Up Amish, Ira Wagler, explains his own struggle with his heritage and religion. When he left the Amish faith, he felt that there was no salvation for him. But like my character Gideon, he finds that God’s reach is wider than any Amish congregation, and that anyone who comes to God for forgiveness experiences grace and mercy. You don’t have to be Amish to be loved by God.
My hope is that readers will not only enjoy Still Life in Shadows, but rekindle their own faith and truly treasure what it means to live daily under the shadow of the Almighty.
Alice J. Wisler loves reading about and experiencing new cultures and foods. She grew up as a missionary kid in Japan and has either lived in or traveled to over twenty-five countries. Although all are based in North Carolina, each of her five inspirational novels (two are Christy finalists) hold international aspects to them, as well as grief and loss. Alice’s most recent, Still Life in Shadows (River North/Moody), has characters of Japanese descent. An advocate for grief-writing ever since the cancer death of her son, Alice teaches Writing the Heartache Workshops both online and at conferences. Her devotional, How to Wake Up in the Morning: Reflections of Comfort in Heartache, comes out next year from Leafwood Publishers. Visit her website, follow her two blogs, and find her on Facebook: http://www.alicewisler.com
Some might consider this a little controversial in light of the popularity of Amish books. Your thoughts?
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Controversial, yes. I struggle with the idyllic lifestyle many Amish fiction books seem to promote glossing over the problems, both doctrinal and social. I’m thrilled to see this book has been published in the CBA.
Alice J. Wisler
Thanks, Julia! I’m thrilled, too!
Thanks, Sandy, for having me as a guest here!
My pleasure, Alice. Thanks for writing the post!
So glad to “hear” from you, Julia! I admit, I don’t read much Amish, but next week I’ll be reviewing Nancy Mehl’s Inescapable, set in an old order Mennonite town.
Alice J. Wisler
I went to a Mennonite college for four years and find it amusing that the Mennonites are now the “hot topic”, too. Life is fun; I continue to be amused!