I’m pretty notorious for asking people how much their soul is worth. One friend who kept complaining about his soul-sucking corporate job is now living in Korea teaching English. Another friend just landed in Australia. Taking care of your soul can be very fulfilling. At the very least it reminds us that this life is our one and only shot, and so we should live large and full.
But, every now and again we are put in a position where our soul is the very thing keeping us from our one true dream.
This is the conflict set up in OyMG by Amy Fellner Dominy. Ellie Taylor’s big dream is to go to Benedict’s High School – the best speech school in the country. She’s a natural-born debater, and she knows that she can do great things, if only she goes to Benedict’s. Unfortunately, her family can’t afford to send her to the snooty private school, so she has to find another way.
When Ellie is accepted into the Christian Society Speech and Performing Arts summer camp at Benedict’s, she’s sure this is her ticket. All she has to do is win the year-end speech tournament and she’ll get a full scholarship to Benedict’s. There’s only one problem, and it isn’t her debating skills – it’s the Star of David she wears around her neck. Ellie’s the only Jew at camp, and the woman deciding her fate doesn’t like “those people”.
Ellie has to decide which is more important, her soul and her true identity as a Jew, or her dream. After all, her father IS a Lutheran, is it really lying to claim only that half, even though her dad hasn’t been a practicing Christian since he married her mother and Ellie’s never been to church, and only celebrates Christmas when Grandma Taylor is in town?
OyMG is a fantastic book about being a teen, trying to fit in, and fighting for your dreams. It’s about the tough choices teens have to make as they navigate the murky waters of adolescence. Is it really so bad to want to fit in? Is it really selling out if it means you’ll be able to live your life on your terms afterward? What if there’s also a boy? A really cute, smart, funny, nice boy, who just happens to be the grandson of the woman who holds your fate, and your faith, in her hands?
I’ve had OyMG on my wish list ever since I heard about from Amy’s agent, months and months ago. Miraculously, and totally randomly, a copy arrived on my doorstep last week. I read it in one sleepless night. It’s a perfect blend of serious issues, teen awkwardness, clever wit and laugh out loud humor. And, as I always say, a book is only as good as the way you feel when you come to the end. This book is pitch perfect cover to cover.
If you’re looking for another excuse to buy a Young Adult novel, look no further. OyMG has something for everyone. It says “teen novel” on the back, but I don’t remember there being any content inappropriate for any age. There’s a kissing scene, but it’s tender and sweet, even my third grader would be OK with it. And there are some humorous lines about the 14-year-old protagonist being too young to date, which should make all you literary gatekeepers relax already.
Also – for all you literary and writerly blog followers – Amy’s got a blog of her own. I subscribe, and you should too 🙂