Sunday, August 19, 2012

Review of 'Almost Amish' by Kathryn Cushman

Susan is a Martha Stewart in-training. She is classic Type A personality and a helicopter parent. Her husband recently left her and she is trying to figure out her life. She is given a chance to be on a reality TV series in which a family tries to live like the Amish. This would bode well for her career, so she agrees to do it.

She needs another family, so she asks her brother's wife Julie to join her with their two kids. Julie is a stay-at-home mom who is completely dissatisfied with her life. She is always on the go, she never sees her kids, and she always feels like a failure. Somehow, a summer of simple living sounds like a great idea to her.

The two families aren't going to actually live as Amish. They will have electricity and indoor plumbing. They will have to learn how to wash their clothes by hand, cook on a wood stove, plant a garden, care for farm animals, etc. Every week there is a new challenge they must face, that they hope will draw in viewers.

Susan is determined to be perfect. She is so focused on what the American audience is going to see, that she continues to neglect her daughter. Julie is also afraid of looking like a fool in front of the TV audience, but she finds herself quickly getting more in tune with herself and her own kids. She realizes that simple living isn't as easy as you would think, but it is definitely more purposeful.

The attitude of the producer, Kendra, and her production crew make you cringe. For example, when they are visiting the nearby town and later Walmart, they are explicitly told to *NOT* film the Amish people and their businesses. They go ahead and do it anyway, which is so disrespectful. Some of their tasks and other things they film are also highly disrespectful. Isn't that the name of the game in reality TV anymore? Julie notices, though, and develops a strength inside her to stand up for what is right.

This book is an excellent reminder to stop and smell the roses from time to time. Everything you do in life should have some kind of a purpose. Remember to listen to your kids and to each other. You are probably missing something very important. Life is not about jumping on Facebook every five minutes to update your status, nor texting your friends nonstop about trivial matters. It is about embracing what you have and giving of yourself to others. Twists in the plot also remind you to not take people at face value. Sometimes there is more going on that what you see on the surface. First impressions are not always the correct ones. I hope that the readers of this book are able to learn this lesson as well as, if not better than, the characters in this book.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House, in exchange for my honest review.

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