Sunday, August 05, 2012

A World Away by Nancy Grossman

I know that there is a whole world of Amish romances out there but I have never read one. I thought when I picked this YA book up it might be something like that for a teen audience. I still have no idea how this compares to the adult Amish romances, but I found this to be an enjoyable coming of age story with an interesting cultural twist. Eliza is a 16-year-old Amish girl who longs to get out of her sheltered community and experience life among the "English" (that's us). When the opportunity to be a nanny for a Chicago family arises she jumps at the chance to give up her plain dress. She buys her first pair of jeans at Walmart and heads off to the land of cell phones, texting, television, video games, movies, computers, and much more. She meets a romantic interest very quickly who loves to show her new things and introduces her to his friends. Of course, she struggles at first to make sense of the world of "English" teenagers, but she enjoys many things about her new life. She makes a startling discovery also—her mother's sister whom she has never even heard of lives nearby. Aunt Beth was shunned many years ago for marrying an outsider. This is the life that Eliza would be choosing if she decides to leave the Amish community. In many ways the book was predictable—of course she would meet a boyfriend and be forced to decide between going back to her Amish community or joining the larger world. But I wasn't sure until the end what choice Eliza would make or how she could ever be happy in either world. All in all this was an engaging story that made me want to keep reading and opened my eyes to a culture about which I know very little. Definitely recommended for high school readers—and let's face it, it's girls who will enjoy it the most.

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