Mary-Ann Kirby’s book I Am Hutterite is an awkward but occasionally endearing look into a community most have never even heard of, much less know anything about. I was definitely among the ignorant prior to reading the book, and anyone I’ve talked to since has also been in that category. The Hutterites are a community of exiles from Europe/Russia to the United States and Canada in the late eighteenth-centry. Though not a completely isolated commune, the Hutterites pride themselves on a distance from worldly ways and with an affinity for hard work, routine, structure and community. Kirby’s first-hand knowledge of the life of Hutterite colonies is a treat for readers and the authenticity of what she has to share is clear. Sometimes, however, that authenticity also gets in the way of the delivery. The narrative is generally dry and matter-of-fact and frequently boring. But there are enough touches of humor and sparks of brilliance that make the book feel less like a waste-of-time and more like an education. The book varies in tone from a young girl’s diary to a light history book to a language lesson as Kirby inserts Hutterisch (the language of the Hutterites, a variation on high German) with inconsistent and awkward English translations. She does, however, include a lexicon in the back of the book. Despite its faults, it is still an honest and unique look at a way of life vastly foreign to the majority of the Western world. I am not entirely sorry I read it and I would recommend it to a friend interested in this sort of writing.
Monday, May 24, 2010
A Review: I Am Hutterite
I have joined a program called BookSneeze where a publishing company gives me a selection of books from which to choose, I pick one, read it and write a review, to be published on my blog and a major retailers website. Then it happens all over again. So. Here is my very first review. Oh joy!