Rumspringa by Tom Shachtman
To Be or Not to Be Amish

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Synopsis

A revelatory look at Amish youth as they have never been looked at before

Rumspringa is a fascinating look at a little-known Amish coming-of-age ritual, the rumspringa--the period of "running around" that begins for their youth at age sixteen. Through vivid portraits of teenagers in Ohio and Indiana, Tom Shachtman
offers an account of Amish life as a mirror to the soul-searching and questing that we recognize as a generally intrinsic part of adolescence.

The trappings of the Amish way of life--the "plain" clothes and electricity-free farms--conceal the communities' mystery: how they manage to retain their young people and perpetuate themselves generation after generation. The key to this is the rumspringa, when Amish youth are allowed to live outside the bounds of their faith, experimenting with alcohol, premarital sex, trendy clothes, telephones, drugs, and wild parties. By allowing them such freedom, their parents hope they will learn enough to help them make the most important decision of their lives--whether to be baptized as Christians, join the church, and forever give up worldly ways, or to remain out in the world.

In this searching book, Shachtman draws on his skills as a documentarian to capture young people on the cusp of a fateful decision, and to give us an original and deeply affecting portrait of the Amish as a whole.

 

About Tom Shachtman

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Tom Shachtman is an author, filmmaker, and educator.  He has written or co-authored more than thirty books, as well documentaries for ABC, CBS, NBC, and PBS, and has taught at major universities.  Publishers Weekly lauded his most recent book, RUMSPRINGA: TO BE OR NOT TO BE AMISH (North Point Press/Farrar Straus) as “not only one of the most absorbing books ever written about the Plain People, but a perceptive snapshot of the larger culture in which they live and move
 
Published May 29, 2007 by North Point Press. 304 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Religion & Spirituality. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Rumspringa

Kirkus Reviews

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Shachtman (Terrors and Marvels, 2001, etc.) describes the rite of passage called rumspringa, which allows these kids to sample their “English” counterparts’ vices—drinking, drug use, casual sex—before deciding whether to accept the Amish way of life and renounce those excesses for good.

Jun 01 2006 | Read Full Review of Rumspringa: To Be or Not to B...

Publishers Weekly

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A teenage Amish girl sits in her buggy, one hand dangling a cigarette while the other holds a cellphone in which she is loudly chatting away. This girl, like many Amish teens 16 and older, is in a

Mar 13 2006 | Read Full Review of Rumspringa: To Be or Not to B...

Bookmarks Magazine

The Amish tradition of rumspringa codifies such adolescent rebellion: at the age of 16, Amish youth become exempt from the strict rules, or ordnung, of the faith in order to decide whether to join the outside, American world or be baptized into the Amish Mennonite Church.

Aug 21 2007 | Read Full Review of Rumspringa: To Be or Not to B...

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