I adore memoirs, but you never really can tell ... I mean, it seems like everyone is writing their memoir these days, and you have to figure that not ALL of them have the most interesting things to say and it is hard to be a "good" writer.
Anyway, I wasn't disappointed with Mary-Ann Kirkby's tale. Mary-Ann grew up in a religious sect called the Hutterites, which is a branch of Anabaptists who, like the Amish and Mennonites, trace their roots to the Radical Reformation of the 16th century. The Hutterites embrace community living, absolute pacifism, and living as much like their ancestors would have in 16th century Europe. Since the Hutterites moved to North America in the 18th and 19th centuries, their population grew from 400 to around 42,000. Today Hutterites are found in the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Colombia, and in the US they reside in North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Washington and Montana.
The book started off a little shaky, and I really couldn't hear Mary-Ann's voice, as she began by telling her mother's story, but it soon picks up, and I was engrossed. She begins with her father and mother meeting and getting married, followed by her "charmed" community life, and finally being moved out of the community and facing the "English" world.
While at times the first half is hard to read with all the Hutterisch phrases (which are sometimes followed by and English translation and sometimes NOT), the story keeps you going. I had a real attachment to Mary-Ann by the second half of the book, and my heart broke as she struggled to fit in at school. My only other complaint is that the book is so careful and slow and detailed, but then it just ENDS. She's in the middle of a narrative, and then, BAM, epilogue. I guess it's hard to end a memoir when you went on living for so long after the part you need to tell ends, but it rubbed me the wrong way.
Overall, I would definitely recommend it. In fact, one of you lucky bitches or bastards could have this book show up in your mailbox compliments of ME! Here's the deal: since religious sects are usually seen as cults (not to say that the Hutterites are a cult, but you get what I mean!), to enter this giveaway, respond in the comments section with why YOU would be a great cult leader. The best answer WINS! Just be sure to leave your e-mail address so I can contact you and get your mailing address.
YAY! A giveaway! I must be like, the nicest person on the planet. Or something.