Launching “Bonnet Strings” and the PBS Documentary “The Amish: Shunned”

Tonight the PBS documentary "The Amish: Shunned" will be premiering on American Experience. I am one of seven people whose stories are followed in this film. I have written a blog post for American Experience, called To Obey or to Stray: That is the Question.

Tonight I will be tweeting live during the show. (Dorothy is a long way from Kansas!) I will not be answering questions on the spot, but I will back here on the blog later, so feel free to send me your questions.

The first chapter of the film has been published. Here it is: 


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News on the book:
Yesterday was the official publication date of Bonnet Strings. My publisher, Herald Press, is offering a giveaway of 10 copies of "Bonnet Strings" on Goodreads. I hope you head on over and enter the contest for a chance to win a copy.

My guest post for Mennobytes was published yesterday. Please comment on it if you feel so moved.

There is a touching review of "Bonnet Strings" by Melanie Springer Mock in the Mennonite World Review. It is always gratifying when someone understands your life story to the core and conveys that in a review of the work. This is one of those. I was especially moved by the ending paragraph.
My head is spinning — the good kind of spinning, but I'm still getting dizzy. 
I hope you'll watch the film tonight!  And I hope you let me know what you think about it!
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26 thoughts on “Launching “Bonnet Strings” and the PBS Documentary “The Amish: Shunned””

  1. I’m in awe of your integrity, your kindness, and the courage you showed to tell your story. Will purchase your book for our library. Wishing you well in your role as author, speaker, and storyteller. One woman’s bold honesty, like a ripple effect, will unleash more story sharing in other women, so watch for the waves to follow.


    1. Terry, these are very loving words… thank you! Where is your library? If you would like to have me speak there, please let me know. Depending on my travel schedule, it may just work out.

      Thank you again for your kind words. namaste

  2. I watched it and loved it. It was nice to see you! Although I knew what the outcome would be for your sweet friend, I couldn’t stop watching even though it was heartbreaking! So glad I happened to stop by your blog today for the heads up on the broadcast. I’m not blogging these days and only browse my old blog haunts occasionally. I’m looking forward to reading your new book! Deb from What’s In My Attic

    1. Hello Deborah! It’s great to hear from you. Thank you very much for your concern for Anna. I try to send her good thoughts every day. There is not much else I can do. Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment.

  3. Saloma,

    My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed the PBS documentary tonight. We were deeply touched by the choices you all had to make for your own life’s freedom. I felt the heaviness of the decisions none of you really wanted to make and I grieved for that. Your story of your father’s funeral brought me to tears… what respect they showed you. That was a blessing.

    I wished Anna had stayed with you. I was really surprised to see her go home, but I saw tormented she appeared. My husband and I were ready to place a large order for those cinnamon rolls.

    Thank you for participating in the PBS Documentary and bringing awareness to the topic. Please, if you connect with Anna again, please let her know she has “fans” thinking about her journey and carrying well wishes for her.


    1. Kristen, thank you for sharing your thoughts about “The Amish: Shunned.” I thought it was really well done.

      Yes, that was a moment of true grace at my father’s funeral. I will never forget that as long as I live.

      Taking Anna back was hard. But to put her on a bus seemed heartless.

      It is the weirdest thing… so many people care about Anna, and she doesn’t even know. I have to think that on some level she does, but not consciously.

      Thank you for your kind words. All the best to you.

  4. Saloma, bless you and your husband for opening your hearts to Anna, and loving enough to let her go. I could see your tears behind the glasses. Thank you for sharing your knowledge of the Amish culture. I look forward to reading your new book.

  5. Congratulations to you Saloma, on your Book launch today!! I enjoyed
    hearing your stories on The Amish, and American Experience. I am also
    a descendant of Mennonites and we have Old Order Amish in the family but most are now New Reformed Mennonite. My family is from Oscoda County MI and my grandmother was a Miller. We may be distantly related, I would not at all be surprised.
    At any rate, today is about YOU. Once again, Congratulations on the launch of your new book on this day.

    Tom Detweiler
    Grass Valley, CA

    1. Tom, it sounds like you and I might be related. I bet we at least have friends in common. Oscoda County (Mio) is where a whole group of Amish from Geauga County moved to back in the early 70s. Thank you for your good wishes.

  6. I very much enjoyed the presentation of The Amish: Shunned last night. The most heartbreaking part was watching you say goodbye to Anna. Was that a live event or a reenactment? Having read about Anna here, it was just really emotional to hear from her and watch you go through that. I really felt for your both.

    I look forward to receiving your new book as well. Is that you on the cover?

    Thank you for your forthright contributions to the body of knowledge on the Amish.

    1. Char, thank you for your kind words. Yes, seeing Anna go back was very heartbreaking. What you saw in the film was a preparatory good-bye. The later one at her parents’ house was excruciating. You can read about that here:

      That is my niece, Leanna, on the cover of the book. She is beautiful, isn’t she?

      Sharing real stories about my life and the Amish in general is what I feel called to do at this juncture in my life. It is gratifying to be appreciated for that. Many thanks.

  7. Saloma,
    I viewed “The Amish: Shunned” today on line. (We don’t get outside stations coming into our home. DVD’s only). I thought it was top notch in so many aspects. My initial thought, after viewing the peeks, was that it would be heart wrenching so I had a box of Kleenex at hand. I never needed to use any. In fact, I found the program, or should I say the people in it, to be brave, intelligent, real overcomers. Just taking one step at a time, getting support where needed, feeling their feelings, and making themselves available should their family members embrace them again. And so often they did! Whether it be in large ways or small the love was there…and expressed.
    Even Anna’s story was uplifting. She made one heck of a choice, something she wasn’t used to doing. Now she knows she can make more choices for herself, even to leave if she decides to. She knows she can make it. She knows because you were there for her. You believed in her.
    I was pleasantly shocked to see the nursing student’s family not shunning her. I never knew this existed. I never knew it could…and work. I know she expressed things not feeling the same, but that may happen whenever a “child” starts making choices for herself/himself. The stage is reset though the players are the same.
    I received your book a few days back and am enjoying reading every word. My goodness, you had guts girl! And what a beauty! No wonder David kept coming back. Well, I’m sure there was more to it than just that, but I haven’t gotten to that part in the book yet. Speaking of which, time for me to get back to reading.

    1. Fran, these are very astute observations. Yes, Naomi is from one of the more liberal groups, but she also never joined the church, so that contributed to her not being shunned.

      Thank you for your kind words about my book and my story. You’re making me blush… that’s pretty hard to do!

      It is always good to hear from you. Thank you for stopping by.

  8. I just finished your book and LOVED it! It made me cry with happiness knowing that David was so understanding and waited for you! A true love story, Saloma!

  9. It was great to hear your story and I am looking forward to reading your books.
    I was wondering how Anna is from the “Shunned” documentary? Is she happy with her decision to return home?

    1. CC, it is hard to know whether Anna is happy with her decision, considering she is not allowed to communicate with us. I send her good thoughts every day and hope that if she’s not, she will have the courage to leave again.

  10. Robyn Elaine Roberts

    Thought-provoking documentary. I have always been fascinated by the Amish. As a young girl I was invited to my cousins Lancaster County, PA dairy farm for Easter. As I grew older, invitations no longer were forthcoming. I know now that I was too worldly to remain connected. I am fascinated, however, by the fact that when Amish do leave the culture, most hold tightly to their Christian beliefs, and some, as the documentary portrayed,even delve deeper into the Christian sect…Born Again, Baptists, Evangelical ex-Amish come to mind. I know quite a few. Is this an assumption on my part, or does the leaving of the culture not include the leaving of the faith? Your thoughts would be appreciated. Thank you so much for all you have done to enlighten the “dominant culture” (Naomi’s quote) on the importance of this sub-culture to all of our lives. One must never assume that diverging paths don’t converge at points throughout our travels through life. Knowledge equals understanding equals a more peaceful world for everyone.
    Robyn E. Roberts
    Bolton, MA

    1. Robyn, thank you for your thoughts on the film. Leaving the culture can include leaving the faith, but it is not always the case. Every person is different in how thoroughly he or she leaves the Amish. It ranges from agnostics and atheists to born-again Christians. Thank you for your appreciation for me sharing my life story. I agree with your thoughts about knowledge and understanding. Peace and joy to you.

  11. Isn’t it surreal that millions of people have now seen and heard the story of Anna and she hasn’t? She’s quietly going through these days, oblivious to all the attention she’s receiving on the outside world.

  12. I have been close to members of the Amish community throughout my life. I was not aware, however, that they were even allowed to perform music until recently when a friend asked me to produce a recording of him singing a song he wrote about his deceased Mother. We have a session pending. Should be interesting.

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