Sunday, October 14, 2012

Review: A World Away - Nancy Grossman

A World Away by Nancy Grossman
Genre: YA, contemporary, romance
Published on July 17, 2012
Published by Hyperion
Pages: 400
Read From: 9.30.12 - 10.2.12
Final Rating: 3/5 strawberries

Sixteen-year-old Eliza Miller has never made a phone call, never tried on a pair of jeans, never sat in a darkened theater waiting for a movie to start. She's never even talked to someone her age who isn't Amish, like her. 
When she leaves her close-knit family to spend the summer as a nanny in a suburb of Chicago, a part of her can't wait to leave behind everything she knows. She can't imagine the secrets she will uncover, the friends she will make, the surprises and temptations of a way of life so different from her own. 
Every minute Eliza spends with her new friend Josh feels as good as listening to music for the first time, and she wonders whether there might be a place for her in his world. But as summer wanes, she misses the people she has left behind and the Plain life she once took for granted. Eliza will have to decide for herself where she belongs. Whichever choice she makes, she knows she will lose someone she loves.


Cover Blurb: I'll admit - the cover is the reason I decided to give this book a chance. Normally I don't read books like this - they almost always promise to be boring. But the cover was so pretty with the orange butterflies, and I still like it.

What I Liked: I liked Daniel - he seemed like a really solid young man, very caring. I wish he had been in the book more. Valerie was very fun to hate - especially after what she does with Eliza's Amish clothing when Eliza lets her borrow it. Oh, I hated her so much after that.

What I Disliked: Eliza wasn't a bad protagonist, but she didn't make much of an impression on me, either. She was ok, neither good nor bad. I did not like Josh; he was shallow, had too much of an "well, teens don't do that" attitude, and his affection for Eliza felt extremely temporary. Like he was only interested in her because she was different and new, but after a while, he would get bored with her once she got used to "English" world and wouldn't need him to show her around anymore.

Believability: I don't know tons about Amish life or too much about rumspringa. The one documentary I watched on rumspringa made it look like every single Amish teen that does it immediately goes out and gets drunk, takes drugs, and does other forms of debauchery. While I'm certain a fair number of them do, I imagine that there is also an equal number of Amish teens that don't, and I liked that the Author portrayed this. Yes, there's the wild Amish teens, and then there's the more tame ones.

Writing Style: The Author gave Eliza a very believable narrative voice. I could actually believe that Eliza had never seen The Wizard of Oz, had never listened to CDs, had never gone to a movie theater. And Nancy Grossman did a really good job of describing things that are normal day-to-day things for us in a way that someone new would see it.

Content: Josh gropes Eliza a few times, but the Author doesn't go into description, and they never actually go all the way.

Conclusion: I liked the realistic ending of the book, and I liked Eliza's decision in the end. For this sort of book (teen coping with the world), I did like it. It was an interesting glimpse into Amish life, and it actually made me reconsider all the things I take for granted.

Recommended Audience: Readers is realistic fiction, or who like stories that offer interesting insight into different ways of living and beliefs. It's kind of a girl-read, older audience.

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