The other day at lunch, I was outed as an Amish fiction reader. It’s not something I really talk about and I will rarely read an Amish book while I’m out in public but since my Goodreads account IS public anyone can see that yes, bonnet fiction shows up from time to time on there.
Amish fiction is still really popular in the Christian fiction audience. It’s a big enough trend that shelves are flooded with books that have a bonnet on it. There are enough readers that will buy all these kinds of books so that many authors will just turn to writing something Amish because it’s popular and will make a sale. The thing is I both simultaneously hate and enjoy Amish fiction. I actually don’t read as much as I used to because I kept getting frustrated with stories. There are some authors who I think share my views and therefore I gravitate towards them more.
What I like about Amish fiction:
I enjoy reading about the food in Amish fiction. Seriously, there’s a TON of food to talk about because everyone is basically cooking all the time. I’ve actually been to Amish country in Pennsylvania once myself and I can confirm that the food is every bit as good as you read about in the books.
I really like Amish fiction that questions the faith of those in it. What usually ends up happening is someone begins to wonder why they follow these rules blindly and why things are considered prideful even if it’s about developing a stronger personal faith. This might sound weird but I cheer when people leave the community. Now I don’t want them abandoning their faith but I want to really explore why they believe what they believe in and to really experience life. I enjoy authenticity and realism in my fiction regardless of the genre and this applies to this kind of fiction as well.
Basically I’ve come to realize that I treat the Amish as a culture no different than if I was reading a book set in a foreign country. I refuse to idealize and think of their culture as a utopia and I expect them to have flaws and problems just like the rest of us. When I read a book that shares that same opinion, I end up liking it.
What I hate about Amish fiction:
It’s so white. There are barely any non white characters that ever show up in these stories. Everyone who lives IN the Amish communities is white. And for some reason, all the tourists or anyone who ever comes into contact with anyone Amish is white too. They never seem to ever meet any POC characters in these things. It almost makes me wonder what happens if a small Amish child in the story sees someone who is black or Asian. Would they say something really awkwardly racist out of ignorance?
Faith is either 1) blindly followed with no questioning or 2) just in the background. I said earlier how I enjoyed the types of Amish fiction that question the faith. But I can’t stand when people don’t even really talk about why they believe what they believe. I honestly really don’t consider these books to be Christian fiction because faith is sometimes never even brought up.
The fact that people seem to love how safe and perfect these communities are portrayed. Notice I say portrayed and not actually are. I know fully well that things are not idealistic and wonderful in real life. Amish folks have their share of problems too. But in these books, I’m not sure if it’s the author’s intent but it comes across very much like these people have the perfect lifestyle and this is how we all should strive to be. Electricity and modern inventions are all wrong and if we only lived simpler lives, then we’d discover true peace and happiness. I’ve read so many comments from readers saying how they wish they could live like the Amish because they think it’d be fun.
It always amazes me how women in these books so easily will give up their lives for an Amish guy. I can only deduce that these women weren’t really happy to begin with and they never really enjoyed their current life. To give up your job, your family, your lifestyle to live in a completely different culture where, let’s face it you’re doing nothing but housework and most of your independence is going to be gone, just for a guy never sits well with me. I mean kudos if that’s what you want to do but it frustrates me at how many times this works out perfectly in these books.
I actually could go a lot longer on this topic but it’ll be WAY ;TLDR. If you’re an author who write Amish fiction, more power to you. If you’re a reader that enjoys Amish fiction, good for you. This is just how I feel because I want people to not generalize and just assume that everyone feels the same way about this genre.
Oh and for the record, in case you’re looking for something non traditional with Amish fiction? Amish vampire stories and gay Amish fiction exists too.