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Barbara Smucker.

Toronto, Clarke, Irwin, c1983.
144pp, paper, $7.95.
ISBN 0-7720-1391-8.

Grades 5 and up.
Reviewed by Sue Easun.

Volume 11 Number 6.
1983 November.

Few of us are apt to experience the disorienting horror that comes from clashing headlong with the past. Yet this is precisely what happens to Ian McDonald when the car taking him to live with his aunt in Toronto collides with a horse and buggy outside Kitchener and leaves him the guest of an Amish family. Ian is not a remarkable young man nor a particularly interesting one, but he does prove uncannily receptive to what is going on around him. Even as he resists the strangeness of this new culture, he soon finds himself drawn towards understanding (if not totally agreeing with) their plain but firmly founded beliefs.

Yes, at times the plot is contrived (Jonah the family patriarch is Old Testament Job in the flesh), and as a result, both Amish and Englisher emerge as rather simplistic bit players, but oddly enough this seems a small price to pay for such thoughtful insight into a way of life unfamiliar to many of its closest neighbours. It is high time we spared ourselves and others the indignity of naive blundering and outright hostility and learned to respect and tolerate how others choose to live. Smucker is to be commended for giving this genre something it desperately needs: an exposure to values that have long been forgotten.

Sue Easun, Toronto, ON.
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