What would it be like to have never been in a movie theater, never talked on a telephone, never tried on a pair of jeans? Eliza is a sixteen-year-old Amish girl who has never done any of those things. She really wants to spend her rumspringa in suburban Chicago as a nanny but her parents don’t want her to go.
Once there Eliza lives a summer of firsts when her new friend Josh introduces her to life outside the Amish community. Eliza loves all of the new experiences but also finds out that not everything will make you happy. As her friendship with Josh and her new family grows summer is coming to an end and she has to decide which life she really wants to live. What lifestyle does she want the most? She really misses her Amish family and community but loves Chicago too. It doesn’t matter which choice she makes she knows that in the end she will lose someone she loves. What will she choose? 396 pages Ages 12 and up
Recommended by: Joleen Waltman, Librarian, Idaho USA
Achingly poignant, beautifully evocative, and downright lovingly portrayed, A World Away takes the reader away from the year 2012--a world rife with the internet, online dating sites, reality television shows that portray anything but reality, cell phones that think for you and talk back to you, cars that can parallel park themselves, and shopping that only a click away to a simpler...quieter...slower... world where hard work is valued. Family and religion are central; community means helping everyone in the neighborhood.
Eliza Miller is Amish, and she's just turned sixteen. She has never shopped at the mall, viewed television, been to a movie or used a cell phone. She dreams of the larger, more exciting world than horse and buggy and the quiet boys she's grown up with. It is time for her Rumspringa, an event that the Amish community allows for its youth. They are allowed to "run wild. To step out of the plain world." Eliza sees her opportunity when an "English" woman offers her a job as a nanny in the outside world. Eliza jumps at the chance but she will have to convince her parents.
Eliza steps away from everything she has ever known to experience the new, bright, shiny world of the "English" which is what the Amish call anyone who isn't Amish. She marvels at television, loves the movie theater where movies tell a story and the sound seems all around her, and she realizes that blue jeans aren't half as comfortable as they look. She trades in her simple dress, apron, and kapp for clothes she's seen other kids her age wear. She becomes part of the household and babysits each day. She meets hottie Josh and even goes out with him a few times.
Life is good, but different. Eliza likes her new life but misses her family and friends. When she's betrayed by one of those closest to her, she turns back to her familiar roots. Will Eliza be able to leave this new world she loves? Will she ever be able to go back to her Amish family? Can she leave behind the thought of Josh?
This is a beautiful glimpse into an often unseen world that few readers know about. The Amish lifestyle is portrayed with love by the author who is able to impart the beauty and richness of their simple life.
Highly, highly recommended grades 7-up. No language, no sex.
Recommended by: Pamela Thompson, Librarian, Texas USA
Visit her blog for more reviews: http://booksbypamelathompson.blogspot.com/