Author: Nancy Grossman
Source: Borrowed from the Library
Goodreads Summary and Cover:
A summer of firstsMy Thoughts:
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.
My first thought after completing this book was that is was very well put together. My second thought was, "How would a 16 year old know what to decide?"
The story was told from a 16 year old girl's perspective. Eliza was content with her life living in her Iowan Amish community; helping her mother serve a weekly meal to visitors who came to eat in an Amish home and also working at an Inn.
However, the one time that there were teenagers who attended the dinner, Eliza's thoughts really drifted to the "English" world. The Amish in this story refer to the people outside of their community as "English" and "Yankees". Also at this dinner was Rachel, a woman working on her Master's thesis.
After the dinner and conversations, Eliza felt as if she was missing out on something. She was 16 and it was her Rumspringa! She wanted to be out in the world, seeing other things...especially after Rachel offered her a job as a nanny. After she received the job offer, she was determined to go. Determined to get her parents to let her go. Being out in the other world was all she could think about.
After much discussion between her parents, they decided to let her go. She was to spend the summer with Rachel's family and come back home.
Immediately, we're introduced to a new boy. Josh introduces Eliza to the world of music, movies, the telephone, concerts, dancing and more. Their friendship eventually blossomed into something more and Eliza was left to handle the boy and feelings she left behind in Iowa.
The longer she stayed in Chicago with Rachel's family as a nanny, the more she enjoyed it. She enjoyed doing new things. She found out she had an aunt who lived close. A shunned aunt from her community. We find out just how big of a deal shunning is to the Amish community in this book. Intense!
Her parents allowed her to extend her stay and remain with Rachel's family until November and they hoped she would be home.
Again, the longer she stayed, she enjoyed doing new things. However, Josh started back to school. The kids she was a nanny for started back to school. She was by herself during the day and helping the kids in the evenings with homework. So she didn't get to spend much time with Josh.
At this point in the book, Eliza really begins missing aspects of home. She has experienced the new things. Here's where she has a difficult choice to make.
And here's where I stop. You will have to read and discover what Eliza decided. I honestly do not know how a 16 year old would know what to decide. Rumspringa is such a short time and such a huge decision is to be made after. I really liked Eliza's decision. It was for her and not anyone else.
It was great imagining seeing and doing certain things for the first time. I know there is no way that I could reverse the role and live the Amish way for any length of time. We are definitely spoiled.
I really enjoyed this debut novel from Nancy Grossman. Each page had me curious, crying, engrossed, or wondering.