Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wild & Wonderful Wednesday: The Trouble with May Amelia by Jennifer L. Holm

The Trouble with May Amelia
written by Jennifer L. Holm
Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-4169-1373-3
Interest Level: Grades 3-6
Reviewed from purchased copy.

BLURB:  May Amelia lives in pioneer Washingon State in 1900, and she just can't act the part of a proper young lady. Working a farm on the rainy Nasel River isn't easy - especially when you have seven brothers and a Pappa who proclaims that Girls Are Useless. May Amelia thinks she may have finally earned her father's respect when he asks her to translate for a gentleman who's interested in buying their land and making them rich. But when the deal turns out to be a scam, Pappa places all the blame on May. It's going to take a lot of sisu - that's Finnish for guts - to make things right.

There are quite a few things that I really enjoyed about this book.  I enjoyed May Amelia's voice, she comes shining through loud and clear.  Within the first chapter I had a pretty good idea of May Amelia's personality, feisty and impetuous, which it was not hard to imagine could be pretty irritating to her family, especially her father who did not know what to do with her.  She wasn't like any of the other women that he knew.  After reading the first book (Our Only May Amelia) its clear that May Amelia's father grew up in an affection-poor home, and he struggles to show any affection. Plus, homesteading was a brutally hard way of life.  The vignettes that Holm shares provide glimpses into some of the challenges that these pioneers faced outside of the routine of everyday farm work.

I was able to visualize the setting easily.  I'm always amazed when an author is able to convey such a strong sense of place with relatively few descriptions.  I did notice when I went back and read Our Only May Amelia that that book had a lot more descriptions of the various settings, which makes sense since she was introducing the place for the first time. Holm gives the reader an immediate sense of both the beauty of the area and the challenges that come with geographic isolation.

The biggest problem I had was the cover, I mean the girl looks like she's 16 or 17 not 12 and a pink bra strap?!  Seriously? Other than that I just had a couple of minor issues with the lack of quotation marks and the number of capital letters used in the text.  Once I got used to it however, it was fine.  In fact, as I read the Capitals helped to show emotion and emphasis, which I am assuming is the intent.

Overall, a great book for discussion or just for plain enjoyment (not for teaching grammar :)) Highly recommended for those who enjoy genuine historical fiction with a strong female main character who inadvertently gets in trouble on a regular basis.

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