Greetings, Katy Lee here with my thoughts and review of an ex-Amish book. That’s right, I said EX. I typically do not read Amish books, but this one caught my eye. So much so that after I read it, I invited the author, Alice J. Wisler, to stop by next Sunday for a little chat on her call to step out and write about the other side of the Amish stories. The stories of Amish people leaving their familiar lives behind for the unfamiliar, and why they do it. But for today, I wanted to share how the story effected me. It definitely brought back some memories.
When I was a kid, I took a vacation with my family to Lancaster, PA. I, like so many other Americans, was curious about the Amish way of life. I devoured books based in Amish communities and loved movies set there. I was in awe that these simple people were able to hold onto their peaceful existence amongst a harsh world.
So, when I had a chance to visit one of these communities, I took notice of the people whenever we encountered them along our travels. Some welcomed us into their homes. One even allowed us to take their picture from behind. I saw a woman mowing her lawn with an old-fashioned blade push mower. I saw young girls in bright colored clothing at amusement parks. I saw beautifully made quilts and fine woodworking. And all along the way, I kept thinking how lucky these people were.
Something I didn’t realize was that my mother was snapping pictures, capturing these people and their simple way of life when she thought no one was looking. It wasn’t until we returned home and developed the film that we saw every picture had come out black. You see, these were the days when your 35mm came with a removable lens cover and the camera didn’t alert you when the cover was on. Whole rolls of film could be snapped without the photographer ever knowing that the cap hadn’t been removed.
I can remember saying to my mother, “It serves you right, sneaking pictures of people like that, especially people who are trying to separate themselves from the sin of this world.” It wouldn’t be until years later on an afternoon talk show that I got an eye-opening glimpse into the Amish life. And from there, more truth began to filter out into the world that even the simple Amish had battles to fight. As green as that grass was that that woman was mowing, it was no greener than my own side of the fence.
Alice Wisler’s latest book, Still Life in Shadows, captures a clearer glimpse into the Amish life, more so than my own mother’s camera ever could—even with her lens cap off. Every beautifully placed word written on Alice’s pages has a purpose for being there. Each scene leads up to the overall meaning of the story, which I believe is the cleansing power of forgiveness. She is in no way devaluing the Amish way of life, but rather shedding light on the pain that some endure.
I don’t feel her goal in writing this story was to criticize any which way of life. She shows the pros and cons of both sides of the fence. She speaks truth. She doesn’t blur the image to make it seem more perfect for one side over the other. But rather she exemplifies the need for moderation. In the end, I believe Alice’s purpose in writing this story was not to place blame, but to show how the evil on either side can destroy people when we take our eyes off the ultimate focal point—God.
Now, because I like books that are character-driven, I can honestly say Alice did not squelch in this department. I was cheering them on the whole way and really felt their plight. Their caring support of each other gave the real depiction of what a family looks like, even if it’s not what their society says. Their message of keeping their eyes focused on God rang out, and because of that, they will prosper in whatever community they choose to live in.
Be sure to stop in next Sunday with your questions for Alice. She will be here to share more on her newest release that is sure to open many eyes.
Question: Have you read a book that opened your eyes on a certain topic? Please share!