Thursday, May 20, 2010

I Am Hutterite by Mary-Ann Kirkby


*Thursday Book Review*

I’m drawn to memoirs, so a book exploring the Hutterite colony in Canada, with promise to describe a family’s experience after fleeing their close knit community, piqued my interest immediately. I have to admit Kirkby’s, I Am Hutterite: The fascinating true story of a young woman’s journey to reclaim her heritage turned out to be different than what I’d expected.

For the majority of the book Kirkby introduces many, many members of the Hutterite community, details traditions, and provides a somewhat colorless history of how the colony became established in Canada. I fought to maintain interest.

In the write up about the book, I’d read Kirkby’s family left the Hutterite colony when she was only ten. Upon reading that, I understood the book would address the time when political tensions caused her family to uproot. I kept waiting to get to the part about how Kirkby’s family had to assimilate into an “English”/modern culture. And waiting. It wasn’t until over halfway through the book that Kirkby writes about the move.

The pages dealing with the move grabbed me more than those prior—those of the day to day happenings in the Hutterite colony. However, Kirkby endured heartbreaking tragedies, endearing me to her before her mother and father made the decision to leave. Unfortunately the gripping tragedies get lost in all the history and overwhelming description.

I empathized with Kirkby having to wear prairie dresses during field day while attending “English” schools. I remember the last hundred pages the most—how her teacher had to convince her father it was okay for her to perform a square dance and how she’d collect saran wrap from trash cans because her family couldn’t afford it, just to fit in with the other children. I craved to learn even more about what the transition must have been like, but had to plow through a lot of history to get what didn’t quite feel like enough.

If you thoroughly enjoy history and detailed descriptions of unique cultures, I’d recommend this book. If you are looking for a fast-paced page turner, I’d skip it.

*I received this book in exchange for my honest review as a part of
Booksneeze.


14 comments:

  1. I know a number of children who have to adjust because of cultural changes. This book helps to put some perspective on this issue. Thanks for the review.

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  2. I don't know too much about this culture, but it sounds very interesting. Thanks for the review!

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  3. Hi, thanks for your honest review. I just finished this book. It has it great moments but I don't think I could ever read it again. I was born and raised in a Hutterite colony. I actually still reside in one in rural Minnesota. I didn't agree with everything the author wrote...but she is a excellent storyteller. Check out blog if you can find the time.

    http://blogs.allhutterites.com/lightofevenstar/

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  4. When I read this book I found the details about the Hutterite culture fascinating, but I agree with your review. It was hard going for a time.

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  5. The family struggles would be interesting but all that history would be a slow page turner for me too. :O)

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  6. I've been wanting to read this book. I visited a Hutterite colony in rural SD and have been curious about the culture ever since.

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  7. Great post! Glad to connect with you again.

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  8. Wendy, thanks for that honest, open review. I appreciate that. Blessings**

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  9. I'd not actually heard of this culture. Great review though...very informative. Thanks :)

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  10. This sounds interesting; I'd seen the book and wondered about it. I'd like to get a copy. Thanks:)

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  11. I'd never heard of the Hutterites before, but it sounds like an interesting community. I think I'd need a faster-paced read though, in order to really delve into learning about the culture. I love memoir, but it really has to grip me.

    In other news...I'm sorry you have trouble commenting on my blog -- I've heard that from others, too. Not sure what to do about it -- I'm a bit of a technodork. Anyway, I'm glad you came by today and read Susan's guest post --- this bloggy world is so small sometimes!

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  12. I'd seen this book but hadn't yet picked it up to read it. The history intrigues me. It may be a little lower on my must reads though. Thanks for your insight!

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  13. i am a hutterite myself and much is not as she says.

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