Giveaway and Interview with Emma Gingerich, Author of “Runaway Amish Girl”

RunawayAmishGirlfrontcoverToday I have the honor of introducing you to Emma Gingerich, author of Runaway Amish Girl. Emma has had quite a journey since she left her Amish family and community less than ten years ago. She left at the age of eighteen, and immediately started her educational journey by studying for a GED. Then she heard about college and decided to enroll in one. Less than two years after she left, she was attending college, and four years later she graduated from Tarleton State College in Stephenville, Texas. She has accomplished much more than this in the time since she left her Amish family and community in Maine. You can read more about her journey in her book.

To enter for the free giveaway of a copy of Runaway Amish Girl, you simply need to leave a comment or question for Emma, and I will enter your name into the giveaway. Enjoy the conversation with her. She has agreed to respond to questions and comments. (And just a note: If you don’t see your comment when you post, that’s okay. It will show up when I approve it.)

S: Emma, thank you so much for agreeing to this interview. It is an honor to host you here today.

All of us who have left the Amish culture know how difficult the decision was that you made when you were eighteen years old. When did you know you wanted to write your story about leaving your Amish family and community?

E: I first started writing stories in 2009, it helped me to cope with homesickness and helped me better answer questions for people who were very curious about my Amish life. It wasn't until later that I decided it would be a book.

S. How has your book been received by people in the world you've chosen? And what about your family and original community?

E: Since the book has gotten published, I have had nothing but positive feedback. I get messages daily from people who tell me how much I have inspired them. I am even in shock and disbelief that I was able to write a story that touches so many people. It's truly a blessing from God and something I have always wanted was to be a testimony to other people, especially to Amish people. But my testimony to the Amish in my community has backfired immensely. I am no longer allowed to visit my family unless I become Amish. I've gotten several letters from family members, attacking my faith and beliefs in God. No matter what they throw my way, I will always love them as my family.   

S. I’m so sorry to hear about the reaction you have received from your family. I know first hand how deep that hurt goes. I hope that someday you will reach a resolution with at least some of your family members. Standing alone and apart from your family of origin can be very painful and lonely. However, I am so glad you have had good reception for the book in the world you’ve chosen. How do you feel about speaking publicly about your book and your story?

E: I used to have an overwhelming fear of public speaking, but all that fear went away when I started talking about my book and what the story is about. In fact I love speaking so much now that I accepted requests to speak at different churches and other community programs. Giving speeches made me realize that I am giving hope and encouragement to people that just need a little boost in their life and it's a great feeling for me.

S: That’s wonderful, Emma. When you tell your story, what ends up surprising people about what you have to tell them?

E: The most surprising thing for people to hear is that I had to get my birth certificate and social security number when I first left the Amish. I guess no one really thinks of the small obstacles that an Amish person has go through before they can start their new life. And most Americans take those small things for granted, which in the end is a huge deal to an Amish person who has just escaped the community.

S: Some Amish do have social security numbers when they leave, so that makes it even more confusing to people. Do you get any questions that surprise you? If so, will you tell us about them?

E: It is kinda hard to be surprised by any questions that get asked nowadays. I've heard them all, I think! What has surprised me most is the largDSC_6208e number of people asking if Amish believe in the same God as we do or if Amish are Christians. My answer is, they do believe in the same God, they just have a very different way of showing it and they somehow apply "Bible verses" to many of their rules and breaking those rules gets people shunned. And following the rules perfectly, is considered doing good works for the Lord. Whether Amish people are Christians, I can't answer as I am not the one to judge.  

S. What is next for you in terms of writing, speaking, or other endeavors?

E: For now I have slowed down on book signings as I want to start writing a second book soon, but I am still available to give speeches. I am in the midst of moving to Arlington, Texas, and starting a new job, so as soon as I am settled again, then the writing will continue.  

S. It sounds like you have a lot of changes happening in your life. I wish you the best in all your endeavors. And many congratulations on getting your story into print. May your success with this book continue. And thank you for being willing to respond to comments and questions to this post.

To learn more about Emma Gingerich and her book, you can visit her website.


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46 thoughts on “Giveaway and Interview with Emma Gingerich, Author of “Runaway Amish Girl””

  1. Another interesting memoir to read. Can’t wait! Question for Emma – are you the girl pictured on the cover of the book?

    1. Yes that picture is me! However it was taken after I left the Amish because I didn’t have any pictures of me. In the picture I am wearing the clothes I had on the day I left, so there is a lot of emotion going on with that picture. Thank you Leanna!

      1. I enjoy learning about the different groups of Amish. You see, my parents left the Old Order Amish in Lancaster County when I was 3, so I have very faint memories of that being part of my life. I have Amish relatives whom I hold in high respect and who have a great relationship with my parents. Several years ago we vacationed in the 1000 Islands in Northern New York and came upon an Amish farm where they sold baskets. While our Amish backgrounds varied greatly, I enjoyed conversing with the Mrs. and even a bit in PA Dutch.

  2. Emma, I didn’t know there were Amish communities in Maine. Or is it one community? Were you born in Maine? How big was the community when you left? I’ll be requesting that my local libraries buy your book. I live near Saloma and I think there’s increasing interest in Amish in this area because of her. I look forward to reading your book.

    1. Johanna, I was born in Ohio and then later moved to Missouri. My family moved to Maine about 4 years ago to help start a new Amish community. This specific community is in the northern end close to Presque Ilse. Right now there are about 20 families there. Thank you!

  3. I’m from central Maine myself and were aware that we have Mennonite communities, but I didn’t know we had Amish! Mainers in general tend not to be well-traveled (not trying to insult here, this has simply been my experience)- what put Texas on your radar?

    1. I’ve been to Maine twice now and I love the area! It is so beautiful! But I still prefer Texas in the winter time for sure :-). Texas was not on my radar at all but I had an opportunity to come here about 2 weeks after I left the Amish and I just ended up staying. It’s hard to leave once you make an establishment, but I would say it could have been any state. I have a great career, working on my master’s here and I am building a great network in the writing area. Thank you!

  4. Emma,
    I think you are a very brave woman and wish you the best in all your future endeavors. I’d like to know what type (denomination or whatever) of church you enjoy now that you can go to any that you want to attend? I hope to read your book someday. Thanks in advance for answering my question. :)
    Kind regards,

    1. Hi Toni, I go to a nondenominational church now. When I first left the Amish, I went to a First Baptist church and got baptized, then after a couple years I went to a nondenominational church and just felt more comfortable. Thank you for asking!

  5. How difficult was the process to get your birth certificate, for the first time, as an adult? I am looking forward to reading your book.

    1. Hi Susan, It wasn’t that difficult. I had a little card with my baby footprints stamped on it along with my parents name and date of birth. Luckily I found it in my dad’s desk before I left. I called a hospital where I thought I was born in and asked them how to go about in getting a certificate. All I had to do was print off a form online and mail it in along with $5 and card with the footprints. It took about 3 weeks before I got the certificate. Thank you for asking! Have a great week.

  6. Hello Emma. I somehow found you on twitter and I’m also a former Amish girl. I will be ordering your book. I always love to hear other peoples story’s. I think it’s amazing that you had the courage to write one.! I love when people leave the Amish an go out and follow their dreams. I’m just curious if I might know you. I grew up in N.Y. And was wondering if your dad’s name is Dennis Gingerich .? Anyway you go girl .! Can’t wait to read the book .

    1. Hi Cevilla! I love when ex-Amish people contact me! And there has been a lot of them lately :-). Dennis Gingerich would be my Uncle. His family live in Iowa now but they came from New York. My dad is Jonas Gingerich, he has an identical twin named Jacob. hope this helps! Thank you!

  7. Patricia Wright

    Hello Emma. I am from the mid-west. We have a few Amish communities around here. I have read Saloma’s first book and I am now reading Bonnet Strings. I am very impressed that both of you are writting about your lives. I have a few friends here in Iowa that are Amish. I accept that they are very private, but also very friendly with us. I am able to talk with them about different cultures. But, in the back of my mind, I wonder if their lives are like yours and Saloma lived before leaving. I am looking forward to reading your books, too. Best of wishes for you. Patricia

    1. Patricia, for the most part (and this is just my thought) I think all Amish communities are similar as far as emotional feelings go. By that I mean they have the same burdens and life struggles as much as everyone else. There are a lot of different communities, some way more modern than others, which makes life a little bit easier or worse depending on the community, but it doesn’t really matter where you come from – people always will be happy and joyous or sad and miserable. It’s just a natural thing.
      I have Amish aunt and uncles and distant family members in the Lamoni Iowa area. I am wondering I am wondering if you know about that area?
      Thank you!

      1. Patricia Wright

        Thank you. I have not been around the Lamoni area for years. But we are retired and can go whenever we want. I will make it a point to go there. Is it a Amish community, or only your relatives there? Also, Go around Edgewood and Delhi, Iowa where I buy produce from Amish farms. I am so looking forward to your new book.

    1. Hi Susan, College life was scary and hard at first. I wasn’t prepared for the road ahead of me, but I don’t know if I could have been prepared. I am glad I stuck with it and didn’t give up. Now if I can just finish my Master’s degree :-). Thank you!

  8. I’ve read both of Saloma’s books and found them very interesting. Probably more so because I have Amish roots, as my dad grew up Amish. I would love to win this, but if I don’t I will request it at the library, or maybe just buy a copy.

  9. Kathleen Grieser

    Emma, making changes is hard. What was the most scary thing about deciding to leave your Amish roots?

    1. Hi Kathleen, probably the hardest part in the decision making, is worrying about the rest of the family. It was scary to leave siblings and parents behind knowing that they will be hurt and embarrassed by my actions. Some days I still wonder what it would be like if I had stayed Amish. And I know for a fact that I wouldn’t be happy and I can’t imagine my family thinking it would be better to be unhappy as an Amish person… but it’s true. They think it would so much easier on them if I would just give myself up and come back. I love them and I miss them everyday but I am not born to be Amish again :-)

  10. Your books sound fascinating, it is always inspiring to see women forge their own path in life and follow their convictions. I also left the faith of my family and am grateful for that journey, despite the challenges. We only have one life, and need to follow our heart. Do you ever work with other young women who are trying to make it on their own? I bet you could be an inspiration to them as well.

    1. Hello Madeleine, very good question. I am always open to help anyone, men or women, Amish or not. I am currently working with a lady named Tammy Kling, (she is an an author of over a 100 books) on different projects, including fundraisers for women programs, and helping the homeless. I enjoy what I do and I have a vision of doing amazing things with my story. Thank you!

  11. I am fascinated by the Amish culture and have ready many books and watched numerous documentaries. I was wondering, when you left, did you go completely alone or did you have a friend or another family member who left the culture help you with the transition? Can’t wait to read you book!!

    1. Hello Kerry, When I left I had an Ex-Amish family help me for the first two weeks in Missouri and then I went to Texas and was living on my own, but there was a family there that I could get some support. Thank you!

  12. mary ellen ashenfelder

    Wonderful interview. It is always exciting to meet a new author. I am so very sorry about the relations ship — or, should I say, lack of with your family. Wishing you happiness.

  13. I’m guessing from all I’ve read that you are from the Swartzentrubers or Sam Yoders. I’m from “die Soud Leit” or Old Order. A lot of our kind of people would not be able to make it in that kind of environment. I know I couldn’t… I’m so sorry your family is unable to accept your choice, but please don’t think we are all like that.

  14. Hi Mark, die Soud Leit is a term we often used when we talked about the old order Amish. Well, actually that is the only term we used. And after I left the Amish I still used that term to answer questions about different groups :-)

  15. I have always been fascinated by my perception of the Amish family life. We have a large family, homeschool them, and are fairly conservative, however I always long to be less worldly and more focused on God and family. What path do you think you will take in regards to marriage and children? Will you raise your children with the same values imparted to you, yet more grace and less legalism? I hope this is not to prying of a question. May God Bless you!

    1. Hi Courtney! I definitely have nothing but good things to say about families that want to be less worldly and focused on God and that is probably how I will raise a my kids is I decide to have any. I am really glad that I was born Amish and raised with family values and modesty, but of course there was a bit more legalism involved than what I would want my family to experience. I believe in having freedom and enjoy life! Thank you!

  16. Sally Schwartz

    I am part way thru your book .Really good read.Glad you are are finding your way . I admire your courage!

  17. On the moment I really like to read those books. Just to see and learn from AMish, HUtterites and Christians.
    Looking forward to it.
    Love, Wilma

  18. Hello, Emma! I stated reading your blog some time back; probably introduced to me by Saloma :-) I look forward to reading your book sometime this winter (favorite time to read) and also pray for you (and others) and your family as you continue to write and travel this path.

  19. Hello Emma. Your book sounds like the kind I enjoy. I am wondering if you had access to books or were able to do any studying or continuing education in the years between the end of your Amish schooling and when you left the Amish. It sounds like you are intelligent, hungry for knowledge, and a quick learner. I wish you all the best!

  20. Hello Emma. I’m sure that I would enjoy your book-the picture on the front looks very plain and I realize some Amish groups can be very strict. However I was born and raised Amish-I am 27 and still Amish. I am a single girl and love learning. After school I got my grade 12 by studying at home. I love my community and am a born again Christian-saved by the blood of Christ. Nobody is alike but no one can be happy unless they learn to give up their own will to God and surrender their life to Christ. I prayed for you tonight. God bless you!

  21. Hello Emma !
    I hope your book will be translated in french, stories like yours are very empowering for women, letting them know they can be happy and make their own choices.
    I hope things will get better for your relationship with your family.

  22. Helping Emma, I just saw your interview on Megyn Kelly and my heart went out to you. I can’t wait to read your book. It sounds fascinating. You’re doing great things with your life. God is truly blessing you. He has a hope and a plan for your future like it says in Jeremiah 29:11. God bless you.

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