cover of book
 

Plain: A Memoir of Mennonite Girlhood
by Mary Alice Hostetter
University of Wisconsin Press, 2022
Cloth: 978-0-299-34040-7 | eISBN: 978-0-299-34048-3
Library of Congress Classification BX8143.H67A3 2022
Dewey Decimal Classification 289.774815

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ABOUT THIS BOOK
Plain tells the story of Mary Alice Hostetter’s journey to define an authentic self amid a rigid religious upbringing in a Mennonite farm family. Although endowed with a personality “prone toward questioning and challenging,” the young Mary Alice at first wants nothing more than to be a good girl, to do her share, and—alongside her eleven siblings—to work her family’s Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, farm. She feels fortunate to have been born into a religion where, as the familiar hymn states, she is “safe in the arms of Jesus.” As an adolescent, that keen desire for belonging becomes focused on her worldly peers, even though she knows that Mennonites consider themselves a people apart. Eventually she leaves behind the fields and fences of her youth, thinking she will finally be able to grow beyond the prohibitions of her church. Discovering and accepting her sexuality, she once again finds herself apart, on the outside of family, community, and societal norms.

This quietly powerful memoir of longing and acceptance casts a humanizing eye on a little-understood American religious tradition and a woman’s striving to grow within and beyond it.
 

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