"I am Hutterite" by Mary-Ann Kirkby
Ann-Marie Dornn grew up in a Hutterite colony near Portage la Prairie, Manitoba with her parents and six siblings. Her life revolved around community - meals, work, church - every aspect of her life involved the rest of the community. But when Ann-Marie was 10-years-old her family decided to leave and make their way into the "English" world.
Her new life was a serious shock to the system. She couldn't be more different from the other kids at school. She and her siblings were teased and ridiculed for their Hutterite ways and no matter how hard they tried, they just couldn't seem to blend in with their new society. On top of that Ann-Marie was struggling with being torn from her old community and she missed the communal way of life she was used to.
I am Hutterite is a fascinating look at Hutterite culture, communal living, and what happens when someone parts ways with their community and must find their way in the world. Leaving a Hutterite community is no easy task, in any situation how does one adapt easily to an entirely new way of life? This book shows the difficulties one faces, how their old community always remains a part of them and how it is possible to move forward through the difficulty.
The Hutterite faith began in the sixteenth century when Jacob Hutter, an Austrian hatmaker, had a vision of a new Christian community. In Hutterite communities property is shared and people work together for a common good. However, the Hutterites found intolerance in Europe from the state and other religions and they began settling in the US in the 1800's. World War I brought a wave of Hutterite communities to Canada as they were conscientious objectors to the war. There are now more than 40,000 Hutterites living on 400 colonies throughout the Canadian Prairies and the US.
There is an incredible message of forgiveness in this book. Though Ann-Marie's parents had intense disagreements with the leaders of their community which ultimately led them to leave, they remained committed to forgiving those they argued with and rebuilding the relationship. Though it was not reciprocated until too late it shows that no matter how difficult the situation, forgiveness is always possible and something to be shown.
I am Hutterite is a great first-hand account of life in a Hutterite community. It examines faith, trust, intolerance, understanding and acceptance and how deeply this affects all people, no matter what culture or community they grew up in.