Friday, February 22, 2013

A World Away

Title: A World Away
Author: Nancy Grossman
Publisher: Hyperion
Publication Date: July, 2012
Genre/Format: Realistic Fiction/Novel
Goodreads Summary: A summer of firsts: 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.
A summer of good-byes: When she leaves her close-knit family to spend the summer as a nanny in suburban 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.
A summer of impossible choice: 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.

What I Think: While reading this book, I felt like I was sneaking a peek into a world that I didn't know much about. I was ignorant about the ways of the Amish before this book. I knew they had no electricity and they dressed in bonnets and dresses, but the extent of my knowledge ended there though this is also where my fascination began. Usually I find myself learning the most from historical fiction novels and I extend that knowledge by jumping on the internet and learning more about the history. This book did just that, but about a contemporary topic. I loved learning about their culture. Nancy Grossman allowed us a glimpse into their peaceful and anything but plain lifestyle. Though their lives seem so out of reach for us, isn't it just a culture about family, God and relationships?
     This morning, I was also talking to my sister and found that it wasn't only a peek into Amish culture, but into the head of any 16 year old girl as well. I think this shows how truly the same people are even if they seem different. There are parts of the book that, pulled out from the Amish context, could connect to anyone- family, identity, love, etc.
     For a debut novel, I was very impressed. It was well written, a great plot arc that kept me reading, good research and well rounded characters. I adored the ending that, though resolved, leaves you with a feeling of hope, and I loved being part of Eliza's adventure. It is, underneath it all, a coming of age story about a 16 year old girl filled with trials, tribulations, romance and hard decisions.
     Would be a great book to read in conjunction with the study of the Amish culture (cross curricular with social studies?).
Read Together: Grades 10 and up
Read Alone: Grades 9 and up
Read With: From What I Remember by Stacy Kramer and Valerie Thomas
Snatch of Text: "He reached inside his carriage and pressed a small package into my hands. Gently tearing away the newspaper wrapping, I smiled at the wood carving nestled in my curved fingers.
     "I made it," Daniel said, but I already knew that. I recognized the gleaming finish, the soft curves. It was a small nest with a bird rising from it, wings spread and head turned to the side. The bird's feathers were etched in tender lines, and the nest was a complex tangle of woven twigs. I cradled the carving, letting my fingertips roam across the different textures...
     "Enjoy your journey, Eliza," he said. "Then come back to your nest." (p. 75-76)
Mentor Text for: Plot development, Research
Writing Prompts: Eliza finds herself in a completely new situation in A World Away, what is a time where you found yourself discovering something new or not knowing what to make of a situation?
Topics Covered: Amish, Family, Love, Identity, Banishment
I *heart* It:
**4.5 Stars**

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