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Bonnet Strings: An Amish Woman's Ties to Two Worlds Paperback – February 3, 2014

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Bonnet Strings: An Amish Woman's Ties to Two Worlds + Why I Left the Amish: A Memoir + Runaway Amish Girl: The Great Escape
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Editorial Reviews

Review

This is a remarkable story about a young Amish woman who, against all odds, chooses destiny over expectation. Her courageous decision to follow her dreams is moored by the love of a mainstream man who will do whatever he has to do and wait for as long as it takes to have her. A beautiful memoir . . . It will break your heart and piece it back together again.

--Mary-Ann Kirkby, author of I Am Hutterite

Suspended between two cultural worlds, Saloma tells an engaging story about her struggle to decide which one to claim as her own. --Donald B. Kraybill, coauthor of The Amish and scholar of Amish life

In waiting more than thirty years after leaving the Amish to write this memoir, Saloma Miller Furlong has done herself and the reader a great service. She hasn t forgotten the feelings she had as she struggled with her decision to leave the church, but she has not used the memoir as a therapy session. The result is a story of empathy and depth that reveals the wrenching decision that Amish people who consider leaving their culture must make. --Callie T. Wiser, producer of The Amish and The Amish: Shunned

About the Author

Saloma Miller Furlong is the author of Why I Left the Amish: A Memoir and she was featured in the PBS documentaries The Amish and The Amish: Shunned that aired on American Experience. She graduated from Smith College in May 2007 with a major in German and a minor in Philosophy.
Saloma resides in the Pioneer Valley in Massachusetts with her husband, David and blogs on salomafurlong.com/aboutamish/
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 350 pages
  • Publisher: Herald Press (February 3, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0836198581
  • ISBN-13: 978-0836198584
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #455,743 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

AUTHOR FEATURED IN DOCUMENTARY "THE AMISH" THAT PREMIERED ON "AMERICAN EXPERIENCE" (PBS) ON FEBRUARY 28, 2012 AND WILL BE FEATURED IN THE FOLLOW-UP DOCUMENTARY "THE AMISH: SHUNNED" TO BE AIRED ON FEBRUARY 4, 2014.

Saloma Miller Furlong was born and raised in an Amish community in Ohio. Driven by her desire for freedom and more formal education, she broke away from her community -- not once, but twice. She graduated from Smith College in May 2007 with a major in German Studies and a minor in Philosophy. Her education included research on the Amish with Dr. Donald Kraybill and a semester abroad in Germany. During her thirty-year inner struggle of coming to terms with her Amish past, she has gleaned a better understanding of herself and of her heritage. It is this perspective that she brings to her memoir "Why I Left the Amish" and its new sequel "Bonnet Strings: An Amish Woman's Ties to Two Worlds" to be released on February 3, 2014.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Kathleen Pooler on February 26, 2014
Format: Paperback
When I read Bonnet Strings, I felt as if I’d been invited into the world of a young woman who was deeply conflicted about where she belonged. Saloma Miller was born into an Amish community in Ohio. As long as she could remember, she felt mismatched to the conservative, rigid practices of her community. She was labeled rebellious and stubborn.

The story begins when twenty-year-old Saloma prepares to find her place in the world. Her decision to leave her community is precipitated by her constant fear of her violent father. When her attempts to help her mother deal with an abusive situation and her mother refuses help and her community offers no support, Saloma makes a final decision to leave Ohio and start a new life in Burlington , Vermont.

As she journeys through her new life in a non-Amish world, she finds herself enjoying her hard-earned freedom and making new friends. She begins dating and meets a young man named David who becomes a trusted friend. But the pull to return to the Amish and her family eventually outweighs her desire to follow her heart and she ends up returning to the community on the condition that she not have to live with her parents.

Furlong’s writing is honest, engaging and refreshing. As a reader. I feel her inner turmoil as she grapples with her faith, her family, her friends and where she feels at home. I also admire her ability to persist in her efforts to know her own heart and follow her dreams.

Her decision to return to the community the second time ends up validating which direction she needs to take. She reaches a place of peace about who she is and where she belongs in the world.

I highly recommend Bonnet Strings as an enjoyable and enlightening read about a young woman’s struggle to find home. It is a heartwarming love story.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By M. Orr on April 3, 2014
Format: Paperback
I like a memoir that leaves me with more answers than questions, and a story that is told with a high level of care and detail so that I can understand and feel empathy for the author's experience. Bonnet Strings completely met my criteria, and it had the rare quality of keeping me in suspense even though I already knew how the story would end before I picked up the book. Imagine a page turner in which you already know the ending, but you can't stop reading it anyway. Bonnet Strings follows where Saloma's first book left off, and it is in this one she uncovers the details of her anguishing decision to leave the Amish community twice, and we learn more intimately about her first months living in the non-Amish world. But the rare jewel of this book is her love story with David, a true Amish romance between a young Amish woman and an Englisher. It's a plot that has been fictionalized many times, but not even the most skilled novelist could craft a series that lives up to the real-life love story that belongs to Saloma and David. I also love how Saloma and David's writing voice comes from the heart, with vivid descriptions which made me feel like we are being let in on a wonderful secret. Still, it's not just a romance story. The sunshine and shadows are given equal billing in this deeply moving remembrance of love, sacrifice, and shameless self realization.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Peg Pitcher on February 11, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Not your "every day" Amish story! NOT fiction, NOT repetitious, definitely a delight and different as you already know how the story ends! It's a wonderful visit with the author as she grapples with family, friends, faith and her future - no longer Amish. "Bonnet Strings", Saloma Miller Furlong's 2nd book of her memoir, pulls you into her world where you become her friend wanting to sigh, cry, laugh and rejoice right along with her! She is refreshing and a definite encouragement for other former Amish who are seeking more from life than their plain society affords.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Chana Siegel on March 22, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Far better than just another expose, Furlong's book is a heartfelt tale of self-discovery and soul searching as she makes her journey from the Amish to the modern world. For those of us who have been intrigued by Saloma since we saw her in the Amish documentaries, it is fulfilling to see that she is the same sincere, down to earth woman we thought she was in the films. And the love story--a true-life "Anne of Green Gables"!
I would be interested in what happened to Saloma during the rest of her life. She is wise and thoughtful, and we see that she has succeeded in internalizing many of the best parts of her Amish upbringing, dysfunctional family and all.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on June 3, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Having grown up Amish I can't recommend this book highly enough. Where I grew up was not as conservative but still same issues. Just as hard to leave. I was very impressed with Saloma's decision when leaving last time, to let her family know she was leaving & to say good bye. Unless you've been there you have no idea how hard this truly is.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dee Yoder on February 21, 2014
Format: Paperback
I couldn't stop reading this well-written book. Saloma's journey comes to life in her second story. Her experiences mirror many of my former Amish friends' pilgrimages from being Amish to becoming English. The authenticity of her account rings true. I highly recommend Bonnet Strings: An Amish Woman's Ties to Two Worlds.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Shirley H. Showalter on April 16, 2014
Format: Paperback
I prefer real-life romance to the kind in pulp novels. If you're the same and want to learn about a couple who overcame obstacles of distance -- geographically, religiously, culturally -- not once but many times, you have found the right book. Here are the characters: Saloma, the young woman who left her dysfunctional Amish family in Ohio to find her dream landscape in Vermont and her dream job as a waitress at Pizza Hut. In Vermont she meets David, who grew up in a New England Catholic family and is a "Yankee peddler," a maker of handcrafts. They are deeply attracted to each other, and Saloma is happy in her new life.

Enter the van-load of Amish from Ohio.

Saloma was whisked back again to Ohio by the influence of her Mother and the bishop and the whole group of others who came for her. She was talked into trying, once again, to become a good Amish woman.

I heard Saloma and David give a talk recently based on this book. Everyone in the audience was spellbound as they described how hard it was to bridge their two worlds after that van-load of powerful Amish leaders took Saloma back home. Lesser men than David would have given up and assumed that a woman who flatly refused him meant what she said. But David was attuned to the subtext of Saloma's words and came back, not once, but twice, to reclaim her.

After the second time, Saloma found the courage to leave for good and to marry David.

This is a love story that not only conquered great odds to begin with, but continues to sustain the couple through marriage, parenthood (they have two adult sons), higher education (Saloma is a graduate of Smith College and an author and speaker who has been featured by two PBS programs on the Amish), and through their shared love of travel and learning.
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