Book Talk Tuesday: Almost Amish

I have to admit, I had a few trepidations about reading Almost Amish by Katie Cushman.

  • I’ve said before and it’s still true: I’m over Amish fiction. I’m tired of bonnets and buggies.
  • Katie’s a friend. I’ve loved her other books, but what if I didn’t care for this one?

And my biggest fear:

  • What if it felt like something that was just trying to follow the Amish trend?

With great relief I can say all my fears were unfounded.

Katie’s books are always about two sides of an issue. She writes characters who are passionate about their positions and she writes each so well that it’s impossible not to see their side. Whether it’s vaccinations, doing the right thing in a difficult situation, or making little compromises, the characters are real people grappling with real decisions that have real consequences.

Almost Amish is her best book so far.

Susan is a Type A perfectionistic Martha Stewart wannabe. Her sister-in-law Julie is more laid back. But Julie’s easy going nature makes it hard for her to say no and draw boundaries and she’s often overstressed and overwhelmed by her commitments.

Susan and her daughter have the opportunity to be part of a reality television project and Julie joins with her own two children. They agree to live on a farm for the summer, doing things “almost Amish,” meaning as simply as possible, while being filmed.

Susan about kills herself and everyone else doing things perfectly. Her pie has to be perfect, even if it’s baked in a wood-burning stove. The bathroom floor has to sparkle, even though it’s made of fifty year old tile. Her breakfasts have to be garnished as if the pancakes were getting their own close-ups.

Julie discovers that she enjoys the slower pace of life on the farm and being able to focus solely on her family and providing for them.

The television crew throw various challenges at the two families, all while the cameras are rolling.

I thought Katie did a fabulous job showing each woman’s feelings about the project and how it affected them. Susan could have been a hard character to care about since she’s abrupt and abrasive and impossible to please. But she has a compelling reason for doing this project and it drives her to succeed.

As Julie slows down, she learns some lessons about herself and the life she’s been living. As a wife and mother who often felt overwhelmed by the demands of home, school, work, and life, I sympathized with Julie and could apply her lessons to my own life.

Almost Amish is not “almost good.” It’s wonderful and I highly recommend it!

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