Irma Voth

A Novel

Toews, Miriam, 1964-

Book - 2011
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
Irma Voth
Baker & Taylor
When a celebrated Mexican filmmaker comes to the rural Mennonite community in which she was raised, 19-year-old Irma Voth is drawn to the outsiders and, hired as a translator on the set, sees this as an opportunity to escape her brutal domineering father and follow her dreams. 30,000 first printing.


That rare coming-of-age story able to blend the dark with the uplifting, Irma Voth follows a young Mennonite woman, vulnerable yet wise beyond her years, who carries a terrible family secret with her on a remarkable journey to survival and redemption.

Nineteen-year-old Irma lives in a rural Mennonite community in Mexico. She has already been cast out of her family for marrying a young Mexican ne?er-do-well she barely knows, although she remains close to her rebellious younger sister and yearns for the lost intimacy with her mother. With a husband who proves elusive and often absent, a punishing father, and a faith in God damaged beyond repair, Irma appears trapped in an untenable and desperate situation. When a celebrated Mexican filmmaker and his crew arrive from Mexico City to make a movie about the insular community in which she was raised, Irma is immediately drawn to the outsiders and is soon hired as a translator on the set. But her father, intractable and domineering, is determined to destroy the film and get rid of the interlopers. His action sets Irma on an irrevocable path toward something that feels like freedom.

A novel of great humanity, written with dry wit, edgy humor, and emotional poignancy, Irma Voth is the powerful story of a young woman?s quest to discover all that she may become in the unexpectedly rich and confounding world that lies beyond the stifling, observant community she knows.

& Taylor

When a Mexican filmmaker comes to the rural Mennonite community in which she was raised, nineteen-year-old Irma Voth is drawn to the outsiders and, hired as a translator on the set, sees this as an opportunity to escape her domineering father.

Publisher: New York : HarperCollins, c2011
Edition: 1st U.S. ed
ISBN: 9780062070180
Branch Call Number: FIC T
Characteristics: 255p. ; 22 cm.


From the critics

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Dec 21, 2013
  • jtkretzschmar rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

As far as books by Miriam Toews go, this was definitely not my favorite. I was not a fan of the writing style, nor was I a fan of the characters. Regardless of all that, this author can tell a story. She may be one of the best story tellers of our time; once again she was able to put herself inside the head of the protagonist girl and really make you feel like she was being true to her heritage.

Jun 25, 2013
  • leensbo rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

There's something very beautiful about this book. It's quiet and at times surreal, and often very sad. It did remind me of Toews' first novel, A Complicated Kindness, which is by no means a bad thing. I recommend it.

Jun 17, 2013
  • occy rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

Didn't enjoy this novel at all. Struggled to get half way thru it and finally gave up.

Jun 03, 2013
  • uncommonreader rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

Toews writes with humour about young Mennonite women escaping the patriarchy of their famililes and religion, but the book is a variation on earlier novels. I would like this gifted writer to turn to other themes.

Jan 21, 2013
  • mythoughts rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

It took a few pages to get into the writing style, but after that I was totally absorbed in this story. It's beautifully written and one of the most satisfying books I've ever read. Outstanding.

Dec 29, 2012
  • DanglingConversations rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

There is nothing humorous in this story, it goes from human tragedy to tragedy and still Irma struggles to make a life for herself in the face of grim parenting and a surreal culture in rural Mexico. Irma bears the burden of her mandate to always tell the truth. She blames herself for the crimes of her father, the cowardice of her mother, the unrestrained rebellion of her oldest sister and the emotional neglect of her errant husband. Irma believes she is the fulcrum of bad behaviour in her family and her community. The most poignant vignette for me took place when a love starved Irma went to confession in a Catholic church in the hope of hearing the priest call her ‘my daughter’. Towes does not reward the reader with closure after we have waded through all that sadness. A well written story but grim reading for the sensitive or optimistic reader.

Oct 25, 2012
  • pomtree rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This is an astounding book. It tells the story in the first person of a young woman who flees her Mennonite family in Mexico along with her two younger sisters to escape her father's rage. As the story unfolds, you learn of the ways that her actions have led to tragedy and her struggle to come to terms with forgiveness. The writing is sparse and unembellished but it is so true, so painfully, searingly honest that it can leave you breathless.

Oct 20, 2012

Toew's earlier themes were repeated in this book, so it lacked freshness, but it still provided lots of laughs.

Nov 03, 2011
  • elinpat rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

A wonderful book about a mennonite woman whose father is patriarchal in the extreme. They live in a mennonite colony in Mexico. Irma varries jorge in the drug trade, they live in the father's other house and take care of the chickens for him. Jorge leaves and a film company comes to the place to make a movie and Irma's life changes dramatically. She is a strong character. naive but smart and loving. Her sister has long ago left and Irma discovers what has happened y her which is the dramatic ending. Tear inducing and suspensful.

Sep 29, 2011

Great book- A graet follow up to A complicated Kindness

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