My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I’d like to preface this review by saying that this is a well written book, but definitely not what I expected it to be. Who doesn’t love a bit of sensationalism? I, like many other people, watched this show because it was interesting, and because it blew apart an ideal that many of us who are not closely familiar with the Amish held. They are different than us–we knew that, but I suppose I thought that meant that they did not experience the same things that we do out in the “English world.” I was aware whilst watching the programme that some of it must have been filmed as it was to increase the shock value for the viewers, but I also felt that it showed some true events going on that no outsider to the communities featured would have ever guessed at. I was hoping for more of the same with this book.
It wasn’t what I expected.
Based upon what was said by Levi himself, I thought this book would be more of a ‘here is what was and is really going on behind the scenes’ kind of thing. I expected to learn more about those he felt had wronged him and thought he would offer up an explanation for some of the events America witnessed on the series but didn’t learn more about. That isn’t what this book is. With the buildup for the release of the book and the promises of secrets exposed, I think a lot of people will buy this in close connection with the end of the series, thinking they will find out what happened to favourite cast members or get a peek at what producers and cast members didn’t or weren’t allowed to share during the filming. They won’t learn a thing.
Even so, this is an interesting look into the world of the Amish. Levi and his co-author do a good job of putting the traditions and long-standing beliefs of his people into focus for those of us who would not ordinarily understand them. There is a lot of information about events that have happened in the Amish community, although many of them weren’t shocking, or anything that you could not google and come up with results for on your own.
I suppose getting an insider’s take on things when you are curious about a certain region or community does have benefits over just researching news articles, and Levi does include many personal details about his life.
My honest opinion is that this is a good history of the Amish and a look at the daily lives of those who follow this lifestyle, but isn’t anything so dramatically exciting that you will be rushing to share tidbits with your family and friends.
I think the ever present threat of lawsuits for slander stop people from saying what they really think a lot of the time. I have a feeling a lot more could and would be said if it weren’t for that fact. The show was exciting and filled with lots of “I can’t believe he did that!” The book is not.
Although I can respect the co-author for making the book grammatically correct and for flowing smoothly, I did not see the big personality from Levi as it was displayed in the TV show. I missed that. Eighth grade education or not, I felt like he should have been more present in his own book.
Overall? I’m glad I read it, but I think in this case, the marketing was more exciting than the book.