The Trouble with May Amelia
Jennifer L. Holm
I read Jennifer L. Holm’s Newbery Honor winner, Our Only May Amelia, a few years back. I was taken in immediately by May Amelia’s hilarious rants about living in a household with seven older brothers. The writing style departs from the norm–no quotation marks (all dialogue comes across as May Amelia, the first-person narrator, saying that someone said something), and capitalization awarded to various emphasized words. The result was that I read it within twenty-four hours, laughing and crying all the way.
Imagine my delight, then, when I heard of last year’s sequel, The Trouble with May Amelia. I had no trouble at all falling as much in love with this book as I had with the first. Both are set in southern Washington state in 1899-1900, where farming, logging, and navigating the Columbia River to the nearest city, Astoria, Oregon, are the struggles of the day. Most of the people in May Amelia’s tight-knit community are Finnish, and English is not widely spoken except in school. May Amelia’s fair grasp of English gives her a way to serve her father, who is often annoyed with her inability to be either a proper young lady or a boy. She translates a deal for him when a businessman comes to town, promising the end of their hardships with the land for investment in a new community.
But before that can come to pass, May Amelia and her pascal of brothers have their fair share of adventures–out-smarting a harsh new teacher, out-running a vicious bull, and nursing one of their own back to health after a logging accident, to name a few. May Amelia doesn’t spare us any of the harsh realities of her life, but she doesn’t skimp on the victories or the sweet moments, either. In the end, she’s a few steps closer to knowing that it’s okay to be herself, even if there’s no one else quite like her.
Please stay tuned for an interview with author Jenni Holm on Wednesday, and a chance to win a copy of the brand-new The Trouble with May Amelia audio CDs starting Friday.