Thursday, August 9, 2012

Growing Up Amish With Karen Ann Hopkins (And Giveaway!)


Hey everyone! In Karen Ann Hopkins' debut novel, Rose falls head over heals in love with Noah. It should be perfect only Noah's Amish, and Rose is not. So begins the whirlwind forbidden romance.

Today, Karen is here to talk about what it's like to grow up Amish. Take it from here, Karen!



When I moved to Mays Lick, Kentucky four years ago, I had no idea that my life was about to drastically change. Like most other people, I’d seen Amish occasionally. I knew the basics, such as the culture’s choice of living electric and motor vehicle free. What I didn’t realize was that I would become immersed in the primitive culture. Within days of moving to our new farm, a steady-stream of Amish teens arrived to welcome me and my five children to the neighborhood. The Amish adults were friendly too, but the younger members of the community were the ones who really made us feel at home. The bond that tied us all together was the horses. I’d brought twenty-one of them with me from the riding lesson business I owned in Tennessee and the neighborhood kids were anxious to observe and eventually learn a more disciplined form of horse-back riding from the bare-back escapades they were used to.


It didn’t take long for me to notice the interesting dynamics going on between the Amish kids and the non-Amish ones who rode at the farm. Along with some obvious flirting, there were also late night visits from Amish teens who simply wanted to watch a movie on my TV or play video games with my kids.

Eventually, the community elders restricted the amount of time that the teens could spend at the farm. The adults were worried that their children were interacting too much time with Englishers (that’s what the Amish call anyone who isn’t Amish) and the group gatherings in the arena were against the already established rules. You see, the Amish youth don’t enjoy the freedom of assembly that we all take for granted. They are only allowed to gather for church services and organized Amish events.

Most Amish youth go through a state of rebellion where they question of whether they will remain Amish is decided. This self-discovery time is called rumspringa. Not all communities allow the young people to practice this tradition though, and my own community is of the stricter societies.

The Amish teens surrounding my farm have two choices. They can either follow their community’s rules, or sneak around. A fair amount of the kids choose the later and suffer the consequences when caught. The punishment for watching a movie, playing a video game, taking pictures, or using a cell phone can be severe, so the art of sneaking is a required skill for every Amish teen.

Time is a major factor that limits the trouble most of the teens get into. There is just too little of it. Upon graduation from school at the end of the eighth grade, a typical boy will go straight into the work force, either employed by a family business such as building, welding or farming or they’ll work for another family in the community. The girls might take an outside job, but many stay home to help care for their younger siblings and the household. The ones that do work outside the home, might take a job at the community butcher shop, bakery, or do babysitting or house-cleaning for their non-Amish neighbors. Most of the teens who earn an income will subsequently pay their parents approximately ninety percent of that income. The remainder of their earnings is spent of personal items or saved for their future married lives. The teens will continue to pay a large portion of their earnings to their parents until they turn twenty years old or when they themselves are ready to marry, which is usually between eighteen and twenty-one years of age.

Even though the teens work forty hour work weeks, they also have daily chores to do at their homes. These tasks include farm work, child care, cleaning and laundry. You’d think with that kind of schedule, they’d have no energy for fun, but they still do. Each week they participate in an organized youth activity, which is held at community member’s home. Singing hymns and eating a basic meal are normal for the gatherings. Following fellowship, volley ball nets are raised or a softball game begins. The youth are well supervised and there is little mingling between the girls and the boys at these gatherings, but the teens still look forward to the time to relax and have some fun.

In my own community, I’ve watched a group of teens go through the rebellious period, begin courting, get married and have babies, all in the course of four years. The seasons of life move quicker in the quiet country landscape of the Plain people than they do in the outside world. But for all the negatives that non-Amish people might perceive with the culture, the Amish themselves appear happy and content. And in the end, that’s all that matters.


Lena, again! Karen, thank you so much for giving us some insight into the Amish community. It's nice to hear how the younger ones welcomed you and your family to their town and also fun to hear about the rebellious ones.

And now it's giveaway time. Thanks to Karen, you can enter to win a copy of TEMPTATION. All you have to do is fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Did I mention this is open to international participants? EEK! This giveaway will end September 9th, and as always, extra entries will be rewarded to tweeters, followers, facebook likers, etc.

Good luck, and may the odds be ever in your favor.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

36 comments:

  1. This sounds like a really great book. I really don't know much about the Amish and it's fascinating to me. This was a wonderful post and I learned a lot just by reading it.

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  2. Well, I would love to learn about communities and the way they live their life and interact with each other. The book sounds really interesting..

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  3. I live near Amish so what really makes me want to read Temptation is the relationships. I want to see how Noah and Rose getting over the obstacle in their romance...hmmm

    I can't wait! It sounds great!!

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  4. Karen's post is truly eye-opening to me. I liked learning a little more about the Amish, and I agree - if they're happy with their lifestyle, that's all that matters.

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  5. This sounds really interesting. I like learning about different people, I don't know much about the Amish. Going to be adding this to my TBR list.

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  6. I'm excited to read the book. Great interview!

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  7. This book would be something really new for me. I don't know much about Amish communities and I think this would be a really refreshing read.

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  8. This was a very insightful post! I've always been curious about the Amish, but never read anything about them. :)

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  9. I have always had a fascination with religions that have lesser known rituals or are more quiet/ secretive (Chosen Ones by Lynch or Small Town Sinners by Walker)and I have never read a book with an Amish love interest so this book looks super interesting.

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  10. I am so fascinated by the Amish culture. There are parts of it that really appeal to me (the simplicity, tranquility, family values, etc), and parts of it that really don't (NO electricity, very strict guidelines, etc). That's so awesome that Karen gets to see a little bit of what that culture is like. Thanks for the insight and the giveaway!

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  11. This sounds great! I actually just heard about it today while browsing Netgalley. I learned a lot just by reading this post and can't wait to learn more once I read Temptation.

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  12. I've always been curious about the Amish, so this sounds like a great book for me!

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  13. This sounds so different from how I grew up. I always knew it was, of course, but I didn't realize that boys and girls aren't supposed to mingle and that they leave school in eighth grade. I'd love to learn more about it.

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  14. I think this book is interesting because it is about Amish without being Amish fiction--I tried to read Amish fiction and I just couldn't get into it.

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  15. I really want to read this because I am curious about the lifestyle of someone who chooses not to use so many of the things society takes for granted. I don't know that much about the Amish so I'd like to learn, and I'm also really curious to see how Noah interacts with Rose at first. Sounds good!

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  16. So, I never read anything remotely like this before and the whole amish community sounds very different and unique, since here in Brazil they don't exist.

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  17. thank you for sharing so much about the amish culture!!

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  18. It's really cool that you had a riding school! I've been riding since I was 5! And your Amish stories are very interesting.

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  19. I want to read this book because it offers a new insight into a community that you do not read much about.

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  20. I've always been curious about the Amish culture and the post was very insightful.

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  21. I don't really know anything about the Amish community and so I feel like reading this book would be really interesting for me! :)

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  22. I'd love to read the book because I love stories with a good romantic element to them, but also because I've never read anything that involves an Amish character. It sounds like a really interesting, and fairly unique premise, so obviously I'd love to give it a go!

    Dani
    Pen to Paper

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  23. It amazes me sometimes that the things we all do as teens cellphone and such in another religion can hold punishments. Loved the guestpost

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  24. awesome, thank you for the chance to win this book :)

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  25. I'd love to read it because it sounds really interest8ing and because the cover is so pretty!

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  26. I want to read Temptation because it's about a forbidden love :)

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  27. I heard somewhat about the Amish and would like to learn a little bit more about them.

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  28. I would love to read this book as I am interestd in the Amish I know some about them from films and documentarys and the society interests me. I love a good romance and a forbidden love is even better!

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  29. I want to read about Noah and Rose. It was interesting to read about the famish and non-amish riding horses. I imago e is would be hard to be tempted by the things we have that they do not, video games and phones... Tv.
    shuttermom77 at gmail dot com

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  30. Forbidden love stories are the best!

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  31. I love learning more about the Amish community!

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  32. The book sounds amazing, I'm always interested in reading about their culture, Karen's post is also an eye opener to the Amish community... mostly see them around town or at a farmer's market

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  33. Awesome giveaway & Thanx for letting it be international. :)

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  34. Romance is always a fun genre to read, but it's the tension between interreligious relationships that's interesting as well. I was in a relationship much like the one described except my partner was not Amish. It'll be interesting to see what similar experiences I might share with the story. Thanks for the giveaway!

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