Sunday, August 9, 2015

My Review of Hutterite Diaries

About the Book (from Herald Press)

"What would it be like to share all your possessions and live in Christian community? In Hutterite Diaries, Linda Maendel offers a rare glimpse into the daily routines and communal faith of her people, the Hutterian Brethren. From stories of working together to bring in the fall potato harvest to laugh-out-loud tales of sisterly love laced with revenge, Maendel invites readers into her Bruderhof, or colony, nestled on the prairie of western Canada. Here children and adults work, play, eat, and worship together, crafting a community of goods and living out an alternative to the individualism and consumerism of mainstream society.

Few outsiders know anything about the Hutterites, a Plain Christian group related to the Amish and Mennonites. Maendel's story invites readers into deeper understanding of this community of faith, calling us to take seriously the example of Jesus and the early church in our daily living.

Hear straight from plain Christians as they write about their daily lives and deeply rooted faith in the Plainspoken series from Herald Press. Each book in the series includes 'A Day in the Life of the Author' and the author's answers to FAQs."


My Review

It's a privilege, indeed, to be given such a personal and touching glimpse into another's culture and lifestyle. I became online friends with the author a while back through our mutual love of blogging (Linda Maendel blogs at Hutt-Write Voice). She has such a kind and supportive personality, and I enjoyed getting a further sample of her warm writing style and personal history through Hutterite Diaries.

This book, in essence, is a collection of vignettes about the author's experiences living in a Hutterite colony. Through the fun, sweet, and inspiring stories, the reader learns about why those of the Hutterite faith live together as a group but separate (in some ways, but not all) from the "world." The reader also becomes privy to the livelihoods, relationships, and community events (both daily, like sharing meals, and more large-scale, like holidays and harvest) of the Hutterites, young and old.

The book is divided into four sections ("Fellowship," "Celebrations," "Values," and "Heritage"), with stories collected under each, in addition to "A Day in the Life of the Author" section at the beginning and an FAQs section at the end. The four main sections really kind of flow together (although the last focuses more on the history of the Hutterites in general), and while the stories aren't always obviously connected, they share common themes. Some of them are simple and more clever in nature, and some are deeper as they reflect on difficult seasons, the bond of love, and the blessings of being able to reach out to one another and share what we've been given, be it tangible or intangible.

While not every story resonated in a profound way for me, the overall collection offers a lovely atmosphere of sweetness and simplicity, as well as a reminder to not lose sight of what matters most: faith, family, and the love that binds. I will say that I especially enjoyed "A Day in the Life of the Author"; it's so neat to be able to hear what a typical day looks like in this very different - and yet not so foreign - way of life.

*With thanks to NetGalley and Herald Press for providing me with an e-copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.*

4 comments:

Linda Maendel said...

Thanks, Amber, for this sweet review and for sharing my book with your readers. I really appreciate this!

Stefanie MacWilliams said...

This looks like an awesome read :) I really enjoy learning about different cultures and religions. I lived in Grande Prairie, Alberta for a year and there are always tons of Hutterites in the city. I've always been curious about their faith :)

Amber Stokes said...

Linda,

My pleasure! Thank you for sharing your story and your community's stories with us. :) Grateful for your kindness and friendship!

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Stefanie,

How neat that you lived in Alberta! Isn't it interesting how we can live alongside different cultures and backgrounds and beliefs, and still not know that much about them? There's a lot to learn in this world! :)

This book gives a sweet glimpse into the Hutterite culture and faith - some of the history and the day-to-day life of the author and those in her community. Hope you enjoy it if you pick up a copy! And thanks so much for visiting. :)

~Amber