Blush was selected to be a Top Spiritual Book of 2013 by Frederick and Mary Ann Brussat at the Spirituality & Practice website.
“Not since Kathleen Norris’s Dakota: A Spiritual Geography have I read a more beautifully written or movingly told story, one whose “minute particulars” become a portal into universal significance. Part memoir, biography, genealogy and history, Shirley Showalter’s journey unfolds, one step at a time, into the discovery of a radical belief in love, justice, and peace — and of life fully experienced. Reading it is like standing in a bright meadow and watching the world move around you as you move through it. I promise: You will be transported. You will also yearn to savor the simple joys of faith and family — not to mention the glorious delights of bread and butter pickles and potpie.”
—Bill Moyers, bestselling author and journalist
“She’s a smart, sweetly blushing, baseball-loving, convertible-driving, taking-on-the-bishop kind of girl who delights and inspires.”
—Dora Dueck, award-winning author of This Hidden Thing and What You Get at Home
“The author-memoirist describes growing up Mennonite; her story affords glimpses into this religion’s traditions and rituals…. this memoir will interest readers who want to learn about growing up Mennonite…
Readers learn how a Mennonite community responds to families in mourning, as when Showalter’s sister dies, and how women in Mennonite families pass on “culinary heirlooms,” i.e., handwritten recipe books.”
“Whether she is wearing her new letter jacket or biting a worm in two on a dare from her father, the young Shirley will win your affection.”
—Ann Hostetler, professor of English, Goshen College
“So if you are interested in learning something about the varieties of human life that can still be found in an America where so much has been flattened into tedious homogeneity by mass media and mass culture, read this book. It will introduce you to one of those “worlds within the world” that reassures us of the continuing human capacity to march to the beat of a different drummer.”
—Parker Palmer, from the foreword to Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets a Glittering World
“Shirley Showalter is both a thoughtful historian and a balanced, inner journalist. She affirms—with detail, honesty, and humility—the need to break our own trail while honoring tradition.”
—Mark Nepo, author of Seven Thousand Ways to Listen and The Book of Awakening
“Showalter’s portrait of this extraordinary little girl who wants to be ‘big’ will captivate and enchant readers of all generations.”
—Hildi Froese Tiessen, professor emerita, Conrad Grebel University College
“This memoir provides an authentic rendition of a plain Mennonite girlhood, so rich in sensory details that it magically transports us into that world.”
—Saloma Miller Furlong, author of Why I Left the Amish
“In this coming of age story of a Mennonite girl, Shirley’s skillful writing invites us into an unknown world and makes it home. We are guided into her heart and mind as Shirley struggles to discover her own voice while remaining in the fold of her culture and family. Your mouth will water at all the delicious recipes, and some of you will want to return to the other world not only of a culture, but the fifties, the simple, plain lives of ordinary people who weave the soul of a country.”
—Linda Joy Myers, President, The National Association of Memoir Writers and author of Don’t Call Me Mother and The Power of Memoir
“Shirley’s stories resonate powerfully with the tension we all live with—between our own aspirations and the expectations of others. You must read this book, and when you do, hang onto your hats and prayer coverings!”
—Tom Beech, president emeritus, Fetzer Institute
“Blush is a collection of memories by a woman born with a knack for flirting with boundaries.”
—Suzanne Woods Fisher, author of Amish Peace
“With spunk, candor, authentic color, and page-turning style, Shirley Showalter takes us into a girl’s experience of the threshold between tradition and cultural shift.”
—John L. Ruth, author of The Earth is the Lord’s
“Like a blush, Showalter’s engaging story deepens and intensifies as we discover that there is no such thing as a small life.”
—Joanne V. Gabbin, professor of English, James Madison University, and director of the Furious Flower Poetry Center
“Shirley Showalter drew me in with the very first lines of her intro- duction—an audacious confession that sounds the depth of her endeavor.”
—Ervin Stutzman, executive director, Mennonite Church USA
“Reading Blush is like eating the most delicious hot apple pie served with something tart, fresh, and zingy. Read it to be inspired by a brave woman willing to find her own voice.”
—Jennifer Louden, author of The Woman’s Comfort Book and The Life Organizer
“To read Shirley Showalter’s beautifully written memoir is like stepping into a childhood as far from mine as the moon. Her story is one I longed for my whole life.”
—Darrelyn Saloom, coauthor of My Call to the Ring
“Shirley Hershey Showalter’s memoir zips along like the 1960 Studebaker Lark she drove as a teenager. . . The country road she travels is largely a smooth straightaway, but sometimes Showalter lays on the horn, surprising the reader with intimate, candid and humorous details of her first 18 years in Lancaster County.”
—Jo-Ann Greene, books editor, Lancaster Sunday News.
“An excellent memoir, fun to read, by turns funny, poignant and challenging, a book that clearly manifests Showalter’s understanding of the memoir craft and her ability to tell a good story. . . Showalter takes the particularities of her Mennonite upbringing and makes them widely understood. This is the mark of any great memoir — making individual experience universal.”
—Melanie Springer Mock, professor of English, George Fox University
“As a first person account of a world outsiders often know little about, Blush is an invitation to understand the beauty and grace, if also the struggles, of such a life. Showalter moves us beyond caricatures to communities.”
—Meghan Florian, Englewood Review of Books,
“For me as a reader, the most endearing arch in her story is the rainbow in her mother’s invented story of “The Magic Elevator,” which she, a diarist and aspiring writer herself, wrote at age fifteen and has adapted for her children and grand-children through the years. Her mother, Shirley’s first mentor, challenged the norm in a story she recounts early in the book: Although the Rules and Discipline of the Lancaster County Mennonite Conference condemned worldly weddings, including carrying a bridal bouquet, Shirley’s mother Barbara Ann craftily transformed the family’s plain living room into a fancy bower of flowers and palms for the ceremony.”
“Before reading this sprightly and well-written memoir, sit for a while with the epigraph for the book taken from Eudora Welty’s One Writer’s Beginnings: “The sheltered life can be a daring life as well. For all serious daring starts from within.” Let this thought simmer in your consciousness. Think back about the people you’ve known, your relatives or perhaps friends of your parents who lived sheltered lives where not much happened in terms of tragedies, conflicts, or major changes. If you are like us, some of those you remember came from farms or small town communities or were relatively protected in the suburbs. New and different were just not part of those landscapes.”
4. The Lancaster Intelligencer Journal, JoAnn Greene, Off the Shelf
1. “A Scream in the Night,” Charisma Magazine
Blog Posts Others Write About Blush:
1. Susan Weidener on Community and the Writing Life.
2. Melodie Davis on Book Launch History.
3. Marian Longenecker Beaman, Plain and Fancy Girl.
4. Food post about sugar cookies in FeedtheSpirit: Sugar cookie recipe.
5. Good Day PA Interview, ABC27 TV
Guest Posts/Interviews I have written:
1. For Marion Roach Smith on writing about a subculture
2. For Kathy Pooler on a chance encounter with my ideal reader
3. For Susan Weidener on finding voice:
4. For Janet Givens, on crossing cultures
5. For Sonia Marsh, Gutsy Living stories, on staring death in the eye. Winner of the February, 2014, essay competition.
6. For Lynette Benton for her Stylish Old Woman Blog on What Mennonite Women Wear
7. For Women’s Memors
8. For Not Quite Amish website on frugality and simplicity