A Forbidden Rumspringa by Keira Andrews

A Forbidden Rumspringa by Keira Andrews
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (238 pages)
Other: M/M, Anal Sex
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Lilac

When two young Amish men find love, will they risk losing everything?

In a world where every detail of life—down to the width of a hat brim—is dictated by God and the all-powerful rules of the community, two men dare to imagine a different way. At 18, Isaac Byler knows little outside the strict Amish settlement of Zebulon, Minnesota, where there is no rumspringa for exploration beyond the boundaries of their insular world. Isaac knows he’ll have to officially join the church and find a wife before too long, but he yearns for something else—something he can’t name.

Dark tragedy has left carpenter David Lantz alone to support his mother and sisters, and he can’t put off joining the church any longer. But when he takes on Isaac as an apprentice, their attraction grows amid the sweat and sawdust. David shares his sinful secrets, and he and Isaac struggle to reconcile their shocking desires with their commitment to faith, family and community.

Now that they’ve found each other, are they willing to lose it all?

Two Amish boys discover sex and love, but their secret is a tough one to keep from a strict, traditional Amish community.

This story reads absolutely authentic and shines in every aspect. The characters are down-to-earth, warm and relatable. Though written in third person, we get the story solely from Isaac’s point of view. Isaac is nervous but courageous, his fascination toward men partly sexual and partly simply a boy intrigued by a different type of men (the English, as in everyone who isn’t Amish) and a different kind of life. David has an easy persona, calm and kind and approachable. Isaac’s crush on him is reciprocated, in secret, as they begin their work relationship as carpenter and apprentice, and evolve into friends and lovers.

The author seems to know, understand and empathize the everyday life and struggles of the Amish people, their attempts to be true to their faith, their poverty, the strict rules they adhere to, and the way they work the land as farmers and herders. But… Andrews also reveals how the Amish youngies in secret watch movies, listen to Lady Gaga, and use smartphones. Their inquisite approach is shown in a gentle manner, as kids being fascinated with the world, in an essential way no different than any other kid on the planet. It’s not rebellion, per se, but simple curiosity which acts as a driving force of the plot.

We’re also shown the flipside of this rigid world stuck in medieval times through both Isaac and David. Isaac’s big brother, Aaron, went wild, as they say, and left home, now shunned by their Amish community. David’s brother, on the other hand, died in an accident—one involving drugs, booze, naked girls, and a car, though there’s way more to the story than that. Because of their family history both Isaac and David are constantly under the pressure to conform, to deny their true nature, and not act wild. In fact, their fictional Amish community, Zebulon, is far stricter in their interpretation of the Bible than other Amish communities. That’s one of the reasons why David has a secret carpentry workshop with his friend, June, as he uses electricity and even sells his pieces to the English.

If you let go of your expectations of what constitutes a literary work of an Amish gay affair, then you’ll be pleasantly surprised. I had some preconceived notions of what the story would be like, but I wasn’t prepared for how good this story is. For example, there’s a lot more sex here than I initially surmised. A lot more. These surprising sex scenes are organic in the sense that they flow naturally and realistically for two young men, one eighteen and the other twenty-two, who neither have been with a man or a woman before. Their touches are tentative at first but as they grow to realize their nature and how far they can go, that changes them, the need to be true to themselves warring with the compulsion to conform. Naturally, they are eventually discovered in the act by a friend.

The plot moves equally naturally. We’re shown the everyday life of the Amish in detail without being overwhelmed. We’re shown how everyone expects Isaac to get his own buggy and marry Mary, who also happens to be David’s younger sister. Her sights have been set on Isaac since they were kids. Due to the death of David’s brother and a tragic, needless accident befalling his mother, David is trapped. The peer pressure of this tight-knot community, from adults and young folk alike, is enormous. No wonder kids cave under that kind of psychological and physical pressure, even if they are filled with questions about nature, the Bible, the world, etc. The situation overall gets worse when the adults, including religious leaders, refuse to answer these questions; they don’t even allow these subjects to be discussed or acknowledge their existence. That partly explains why so many young folk leave and never come back.

Like I stated above, this story has a lot to offer if you forget any expectations. I expected this to be way more tragic and sad than it actually was. This particular Amish town stuck in the past, without electricity or other means to improve their lives, are shown in a sorrowful light but we aren’t required or encouraged to hate, fear or pity, let alone like or love them. We are given the opportunity to form our own opinion, as nothing is forced down our throats, no propaganda either way.

The Amish in general seem to be stuck in an age where the belief systems of the adults is passed on to their children. Not unlike a lot of world religions. What a person believes is his or her own business; when that faith is turned into a tradition and the following generations are forced to follow blindly and strive under that yolk, that’s when things get tricky, wrong, and dangerous. That’s the reason why stories like this, both real and fictional, exist. To remind us how essential freedom of religion and freedom of choice truly are.

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