May Contain Spoilers
After finishing Forever by Karen Ann Hopkins, I have to admit that I’m still intrigued by the idea of a regular teen falling for an Amish boy and giving up her way of life to be with him. When My Amish Boyfriend popped up on Netgalley, I immediately clicked “Request” and crossed my fingers that access would be granted. It was! Yeah! And so I devoured this YA romance in one sitting.
I was a little nervous about reading My Amish Boyfriend because it’s published by Revell, a Christian publishing house. I was concerned that it would be too preachy for me, and that I wouldn’t be able to relate to characters. While it was preachy, it wasn’t overwhelmingly so, and I immediately sympathized with Shannon and her plight. Her mother is very ill, and Shannon has had to step in and help take care of her. Her mom can’t work because she is suffering from debilitating vertigo, so money is tight. Shannon’s big plans for the summer include getting a job and having a little fun. It’s been a stressful period for her and her mother, and she wants the summer to blow off some steam and have a good time.
Imagine her dismay when she and her mom are packed off to live with her relatives in Ohio. To add to her shock, Shannon learns that her mother was raised Amish, she left the community when she was a teen, and she’s been shunned. Adjusting to life without modern conveniences isn’t something that she wants to do, but Shannon knows that she needs help with her mom, and she’s hoping that her grandparents, complete strangers to her, will be able to provide it.
After being on the receiving end of her grandfather’s disapproval, Shannon is ready to pack up and go home. She doesn’t want to stay where she’s not welcome. Then she meets Ezra, and it’s love at first sight. Her Amish neighbor is cute, welcoming, and kind, and Shannon decides that she’s going to do her best to fit in and maybe get herself the boyfriend she dreamed of. What she doesn’t count on is how difficult work is without appliances that she once took for granted – dishwashers, washers, dryers, mixers, hair dryers – the list goes on and on.
As Shannon continues to try to fit in, and win over Ezra at the same time, she finds herself on the outs with her cousin. The Amish community is small, and her behavior is fodder for gossip. When she expresses an interest in joining the community, not everyone is convinced that she wants to convert for the right reasons, and even Shannon is beginning to question her behavior, both towards her family and towards Ezra. Young love is strong, and stupid, too, so she makes some major missteps before remembering what’s important to her.
I really did like Shannon, and while her willingness to work hard to fit in might have stemmed from the wrong thing, she really did want to do what’s best. She worried constantly about her mother, and wondered why she wasn’t getting better. She worried that bringing her back to her family was the wrong decision, especially with the Amish mistrust of modern medicine. Her mom’s best interests were always at the forefront, though, and I couldn’t fault her for wanting to have some fun and even get so carried away as to think she was in love. When she realized what she would be expected to give up to be with Ezra, though, her own self-doubts began to overwhelm her and give her pause.
My Amish Boyfriend is a quick read with lots of the drama that I am so fond of. By allowing her feelings for Ezra to guide her actions, Shannon opens herself up to more grief than she imagined possible. Likeable characters and an engaging narrative style make this a fun read. The only quibbles – it’s occasionally too preachy for me, and the final resolution with her mother’s hospital bill was totally unbelievable. I know from first hand experience how unforgiving medical care providers are when it comes to getting their piece of the pie, and that ruined the happy ending for me.
Review copy provided by publisher
Sixteen-year-old Shannon McNamara has exciting plans for the summer, and she can’t wait to get to them. Unbeknownst to her, however, her widowed and ailing mother has plans of her own–to relocate them both to the heart of Amish country in Ohio where she has relatives who can look after her. Shannon quickly learns that living a “simple” life is actually a lot of hard work. But when a hot young Amish guy named Ezra enters the picture, she’s ready to get an Amish makeover and even consider making it a permanent change. But does Ezra share her attraction? Will Shannon really make the jump into this new way of life? And will it be for the right reasons?
Teen favorite Melody Carlson brings fans another sweet story of worlds–and families–colliding, exploring themes important to teen girls through an engaging tale.