9 Following

Clif's Book World

Adventures from reading books captured within short reviews.

Tobias of the Amish: A True Story of Tangled Strands in Faith, Family and Community

Tobias of the Amish: A True Story of Tangled Strands in Faith, Family, and Community - Ervin R. Stutzman This is a novelized biography of the author’s father who was killed at age thirty-seven in a car accident when the author was only three years old. It is also a finely wrought rendition of Amish life in the first half of the 20th Century. Since the author was so young at the time of his father’s death, he had no personal memories of his father. During the author’s growing up years he heard little talk about his father from the surrounding Amish community that seemed to have raised a veil of silence. Even his mother spoke little of him. What was the secret?

Years later the author decided to put together the story of his Father’s life. After ten years of collecting stories in interviews with family, friends and acquaintances of his father, this book is the product of his work.

The name Tobias referenced by the book's title is Tobias Stutzman, the author’s father. In almost any other community he would have been recognized as an ambitious hardworking entrepreneur who’s optimistic spirit seemed to have no end. But in the Amish community he was something of an embarrassment because his enterprising efforts led him into needing to declare financial bankruptcy. Among the Amish who were traditionally farmers, Tobias’ ventures into the field of commerce and manufacturing were of questionable appropriateness.

I have referred to the book as a novelized biography because the names, dates, and places mentioned in the book are all historically correct. All activities, stories of happenings and conversations are based on interviews with those who knew his father. However, the book includes numerous dialogs within quotation marks, and it reveals the inner thoughts and feelings of the story’s participants in a style one would expect from a novel.

I found the story interesting because of some things I have in common with characters in the story. But it’s a story of ordinary people doing fairly ordinary things, and I suspect many reader’s may find the book boring. There is a genre known as Amish romances, as discussed in this link, that are quite popular. It is possible that the title of this book could perhaps lead some readers to expect this book to fit within that genre. Such readers will be disappointed with this book. All love affairs in this book are quite chaste.

The story takes place in northern Oklahoma, south central Kansas, and Iowa, all of which are either stomping grounds of my youth or in the case of Iowa a place where I have acquaintances and/or relatives who live there. I could tell from the last names of those in the story that I was probably distantly related to them. So I did a little checking and learned that I’m a third cousin to Tobias on his mother’s side and a fifth cousin through his father’s side.