When I was in the sixth grade I was obsessed with the Amish. I read any book about Amish people that I could find. I begged my mom for a kerosene lantern. I prepared every last recipe from my Amish cookbook, even the ones that looked disgusting. My parents thought I was nuts. But now that I’m an adult I realize that Amish-Romance-Fiction is its own incredibly successful subgenre. I’m not the only person thinking, “Oh, look! An Amish book. How fascinating!”
When people ask me to describe my main character from Genesis Girl (Blank Slate), I tell them that Blanca is like a Sci-Fi Amish girl, No, she’s not actually Amish, but she does shun all forms of modern technology such as texting and the Internet. She won’t even let her picture be taken because she’s afraid it will be posted online. Blanca is a Vestal, and she and the rest of her Brethren are an elite community that hides from the outside world. They wear white as a symbol of their purity.
Could I ever be like Blanca? Could you? Aside from the fact that an all-white wardrobe is impractical, there is still something appealing to me about hiding away from the world and being certain it was in service to a greater good. But at what cost?
I was shocked when I watched the TLC reality show “Breaking Amish” and learned about how common it was for young Amish women to wear dentures. I can’t imagine having all of my teeth pulled at nineteen because they were so decayed. Quitting school after the eighth grade isn’t cool either.
The more I learned about the truth of what an Amish life is really like, the easier it was to stop romanticizing them. Plus I realized that as human beings, they don’t deserve to be romanticized—or subjected to my scrutiny.
Now when I think about the Amish, it’s usually in terms of Blanca and her Vestal world. Blanca is my Sci-Fi heroine, and I put her through the wringer. But that doesn’t stop me from whipping out my Amish cookbook once in a while. Every summer when I make jam, I’m really glad to wear shorts and a T-shirt and still have all my teeth.