Friday, January 28, 2011

Book Review: I Am Hutterite

        I am an avid reader. You can check my book list on the right side of my blog towards the bottom. A few books I read influence me to write a small review. Most books I just list as having read them.

       A book I finished reading today influenced me to post on it. The book I finished is called "I Am Hutterite" by Mary-Ann Kirkby.  It tells  "The fascinating true story of a young woman's journey to reclaim her heritage." That's what the blurb says on the cover but it tells much more than that. It also makes me think of my own journey and the journey that many people have in growing up.

     Mary -Ann describes in great detail the life on a Hutterite colony. Life on a Hutterite colony is highly structured. Their religious ideology which is built on communal living dictates daily living and all social interaction. For most Hutterites it is a very comfortable and supportive life.  For a few people who cannot fit into this closed structure life can be extremely uncomfortable and the option to leave is just as difficult.

    This is the situation that led Mary-Ann's father to "run away" from the colony. Mary-Ann then goes on to describe the struggle to make a life away from the structure of the colony. She misses the comfort and friends in the colony and finds it very difficult to fit into life outside the colony. She takes us through all the experiences of trying to fit into and be accepted by the world outside the colony. As I read I was continually predicting what was going to happen to Mary-Ann's journey. She survives and becomes a broadcast journalist. She has always gone back to the colony to visit relatives and friends. On one journey back she puts on Hutterite clothes and works with the women for a day. She finally comes to realize that even if she is not living communally she is still a Hutterite.

     So what Mary-Ann has done after many years is to discover  who she really is and she likes who she has found. What a great ending after a struggle that makes one feel great sympathy for the heart breaking experiences she met while growing up.

     I was also brought to think of my own struggle to grow up and find out who I really am. If you've read older posts I write about growing up on an isolated farm. We were further isolated by belonging to a very exclusive religious sect. My total thinking and judgement was influenced by this highly structured and rigid environment. I was a little peg who couldn't fit in and live in such a community. I felt extremely frustrated and angry. Some how I found booze and it jumped up and bit me in the butt. So I had another problem. I did discover myself and was happy with who I found and the booze problem left me. So I realize how difficult it must have been for Mary-An to make her journey.  

     I'm sure that many people face challenges when growing up. Some cope well and have a very happy ending as did Mary-Ann. I also look at the homeless people and can see that they carry a load of problems that they have not been able to deal with in a successful way.  


  1. Good review, Red. I'll be looking for that book. I grew up as a military brat, which means we moved every few years. This made it hard for me to learn how to be authentic in relationships, because I knew everybody would be left behind soon. I didn't have a home town until I chose one for myself.

  2. Thanks for dropping by Hiawatha House.
    Interesting contrasts. I was rooted to that isolated little farm. You were constantly on the move.
    From being a teacher I saw many kids who moved constantly. Some were totally destroyed and others thrived on it. Parents had a major part in the success or failure of kids coping in a healthy manner.