Rumspringa

To Be or Not to Be Amish

Tom Shachtman

North Point Press

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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.

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Book Excerpts

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Excerpted from Rumspringa by Tom Shachtman. Copyright © 2006 by Tom Shachtman. Published in June 2006 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. All rights reserved.
 
1
 
“Going Away”
 
In the gathering dusk of a warm, humid summer Friday evening in northern Indiana, small groups of Amish-born girls between the ages of sixteen and nineteen walk along straight country lanes that border flat fields of high cornstalks and alfalfa, dotted here and there with neat, drab houses set back from the roads. One pair of girls walks westward, another pair eastward toward the destination;

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Reviews

Praise for Rumspringa

"If there are two groups that are difficult for an outsider to understand, it's surely Amish and adolescents--but Shachtman's book penetrates their world and provides a wealth of fascinating information. Oh, and it's really
fun to read, too." --Mark Oppenheimer, author of THIRTEEN AND A DAY


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About the Author

Tom Shachtman

TOM SHACHTMAN is an award-winning documentarian and the author of many books, including Skyscraper Dreams, Around the Block, and The Day America Crashed.

Tom Shachtman

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Available Formats and Book Details

Rumspringa
To Be or Not to Be Amish
Tom Shachtman

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
North Point Press
May 2007
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781466805132
ISBN10: 1466805137
304 pages, Includes Notes and a Bibliography
$9.99

Trade Paperback

Trade Paperback
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
North Point Press
May 2007
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9780865477421
ISBN10: 0865477426
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches, 304 pages, Includes Notes and a Bibliography
$16.00
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North Point Press

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