Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Our Only May Amelia” as Want to Read:
Our Only May Amelia
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Our Only May Amelia (May Amelia #1)

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  5,321 ratings  ·  367 reviews
She may be a miracle,
but she’s no Proper Young Lady!

It isn’t easy being a pioneer in the state of Washington in 1899, but it’s particularly hard when you are the only girl ever born in the new settlement. With seven older brothers and a love of adventure, May Amelia Jackson just can’t seem to abide her family’s insistence that she behave like a Proper Young Lady. Not when
Audio CD, 0 pages
Published December 11th 2007 by Listening Library (Audio) (first published June 1st 1999)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Our Only May Amelia, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Our Only May Amelia

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Molly Staron
Book Talk: Our Only May Amelia

People keep asking me to tell them about my sister, May Amelia. Well, Grandmother Patience says she is a trouble maker and a hellion, but then again Grandmother Patience is just plain evil. Yes, May Amelia does have a knack for getting into sticky situations. Like the time she got treed by a mother bear while out trying to catch that fugitive. We had to search all night for her. She never listens when Pappa forbids her to do something and she's downright pigheaded.
There are so few books out there that have really hit me like a hard punch in the gut that the emotions of the experience are always compounded by the surprise. To stir up complex and dynamic real emotion in a human heart by nothing more than the trails of ink on the page of a novel is an accomplishment that almost defies reason. How could a made-up story have more of an impact on us than most of what we live through on a daily basis? How could we become so invested in the lives of fictional fa ...more
My mom's been married a few times now, and I can honestly say that not much good has come out of the multiple stepfathers I've dealt with. There is one notable exception: my first stepfather, when I was maybe 8 years old, randomly decided to give my sister and I a present each. He put his hands behind his back and told us to each pick a side, and then presented us each with our own book. My sister got "Because of Winn Dixie" and I got this book.

I remember being disappointed at first, because I
Kelsi Nelson
Like May Amelia, I grew up in a Finnish-American family in Naselle (the extra "le" was added in the early twentieth century). This story, through it's heartache, always manages to bring me to a happy place. As May Amelia travels throughout the valley, across the rivers and over to Astoria, my heart follows her along in familiarity. Jennifer Holm captured the area--the culture, the scenery--and from it, has brought to life the memories of her great-aunt May. Whether your connection to the story i ...more
Wow! Picked this up randomly at my in-law's...what a treasure! I laughed and I cried...cried...& did both some more. It runs the full gamut of emotions. The style is fun, as if written by a 12 yo girl of little education but a fair bit of common sense, truth and wit.

I love that this book was inspired by the author's grand-aunt, and her family history in general. That's just cool.

May Amelia could be an unforgettable character (I guess we'll see, eh?).

This book deals with very real issues,
On the outside, this seemed like a light and fun read....NOT! Very emotionally charged with birth, death, first love, recognizing parents' limitations, struggling for survival, racial tensions, suicidal thoughts....ugh! We certainly had a lot to talk about, but I chose it as a fun read-aloud. I also did not care for the fact that the author chose to use no punctuation to indicate dialogue. This makes reading aloud a huge challenge. Definitely not for anyone under 9 or 10, and I think it needs a ...more
I heard Jennifer speak at IRC. Once about Penny from Heaven, a serious look at her family's history, and another with her brother, Matthew, complete with song, dance, voices, and sketching.

Ying Chang Compestine isn't the only author who switches genre and mood, going for light and humorous when the serious work weights them down.

Our Amelia May
Jennifer L. Holm
Newbery Honor Book
ALA Notable Book
Parents’ Choice Silver Award

Jennifer L. Holm weaves a phenomenal story from artifacts and handed-down fa
Erin Reilly-Sanders
Let's see.. In general I rather liked this book. It had a charming voice to the narration with a generally likeable protagonist. It fit together very nicely with themes connecting throughout the book such as the Chinook baby, the new babydoll, and Baby Amy. The foreshadowing felt so subtle that I'm not sure that it was useful while reading despite being interesting to look back upon toward the end. Some interesting things are sort of bumped into, possibly in a "good" way, but generally left unex ...more
Carrie Snider
I almost put this down, since it was written how a young girl thought and not proper grammar. I'm glad I kept reading! Once I got into the rhythm of it, it was easier to read. I loved the main character. She was so funny. There were heart-warming times, and also sad times. I was never bored and always interested in what might happen. The fact that it was based on a real person and a real place is a huge plus.
Andrea Cabrera
May Amelia is a tomboy growing up with lots of brothers along the Nasal river in the late 1800's. May is always getting into trouble and doesn't want to be the 'proper young lady' that folks seem to think she should. Her mother is always on her to clean up her act, and is trying to raise her to be the ideal woman any man would want. Although Amelia doesn’t want to be like other girls, she simply wants to be herself a girl who is able to express herself in all different kinds of ways. She is a mi ...more
This wasn't a bad story, funny at times and heart wrenching at others. I pretty much wanted to drop kick Grandmother Patience every time she made an appearance.

I had two rather minor issues with the books, though. The first was the use of the Lord's name in vain. I am a Christian and was raised never to say that. However, I understand that many people were not raised that way and so they say it. And that's their prerogative. That being said, I do not think that it has any place in a children's
I struggled with this book at first because the author doesn't use quotation marks for dialogue. This is because it is supposed to be the journal of a Finnish immigrant girl. After I got over the lack of punctuation, I really enjoyed it. The book has such a powerful place of sense and time. It's set in Oregon, and I loved feeling like I was in the west, reading about something my ancestors might have experienced. Excellent read.
joy *the clean-reader extraordinaire*
witty, hilarious, heartbreaking, and hopeful

i loved the use of caps to emphasize exact phrasing. loved all may amelia's brothers and family. loved the unique finnish pioneer setting.

highly recommended for 11 and up. PG with two disturbing deaths in her family, some peril, and a bitter, nasty, hateful grandmother who reminds me of a former step-grandma of mine.
Alyson (Kid Lit Frenzy)
Jenni Holm does a great job in writing girl characters that are spunky, funny, and able to win you over. I loved this story about a young girl in 1899 Washington State. Can't wait to dive into the next book The Trouble with May Amelia

Mark Castrique
Interesting coming-of-age YA novel set in 1898 in frontier of Washington State. Material is drawn from author's great aunt's diary which gives an authenticity of voice. Some dramatic story lines could have had more resolution, but overall a finely drawn portrait of twelve-year-old girl in Finnish farming community on Naselle River.
Gail Hedlund
I picked up this book & it's sequel at the library while I was volunteering for the summer reading program. I hadn't read a children's or young person's book in many years. I found this to be a very enjoyable read.
I could identify with May Amelia greatly. I was raised the youngest of seven & spent most of my time with my brothers because they were closer in age & they were also around the ranch much more.
One part of the May Amelia story I really did identify with was the relationship
This is written about a girl growing up and the hardships she experienced. There are references to people being afraid of living in the area because of the dead Indian spirits in the area. It was not enough to make me stop reading the book though. The girl's grandmother comes to live with the family and is really mean and cruel to the girl. She ends up running away to the city and staying with her aunt and uncle until her grandmother dies. It was an okay book. There was no driving plot throughou ...more
Kate Babbitt
This book is about a girl, May Amelia, who is the only girl of 8 kids and is a big tomboy. She struggles to find herself and her role in her family. This book brings her on adventures and trials that affect her and her family, testing her loyalty and strength when she wants to run away from her family but still keeps them together and safe. This is a good book about courage and family. It can be read for it's interesting story but also related back to the student's role in their family and frien ...more
Grade Level: 4-6
Historical fiction – Finnish American
This was a wonderful story set in the wilderness of Washington State during a time when people cared for and about each other. Life was hard. This is one my favorite timeframes for historical fiction. The story teaches unity between families and the community. Many of the families were immigrants from Finland and other parts of the world. All brought many cultural traditions, customs, and ethnicity to their homes and community. The story also
Ann Carpenter
This was a highly enjoyable book that ranged from funny to heartbreaking. May Amelia's voice was very strong and very believable. I was not surprised to find that some of the story was based on the real diaries kept by the author's ancestor. The use of capitalization and incorrect grammar to both emphasize certain things, giving them more or less weight, and to remind us that this is a young girl with little real education was masterfully done.

The characters were strong, though the brothers ble
Linda Lipko
Jennifer Holm is a well-deserved three-time Newbery Honor award recipient. She received her first award in 2000 for the outstanding book Our Only May Amelia.

I know I've read a good book when I learned about history or events previously unknown to me.

This gem was chock full of facts of the Pacific Northwest in the late 1800's. The Nasel river is the setting of this lush, descriptive and endearing tale of May Amelia Jackson, the first girl born to immigrant parents in the Nasel river valley commun
I read this book to my children (ages 7 and 9) at bedtime for about a week. I enjoyed it more than they did, as some of the scenes were too intense for them.

Although it was realistic that family members would disappear or die, that children would come across bears and cougars, that some grandmothers would be mean and horrible, that a girl might think her father hates her when he is just concerned over her safety in the wilderness, somehow it was too much in one book for them. It was an appropri
Elizabeth K.
Maybe I am uptight and too conservative, but I cannot cope when books don't use quotation marks to indicate dialogue. I will never understand why this happens.

ASIDE FROM THAT, this book was mildly interesting (and I'm picking it up now because the sequel is out this year). A little Caddie Woodlawn-esque, Finnish immigrants settling in Washington state in the late 1800s, tomboy May Amelia gets up to hijinks.

The book was based on the diary of a relative of the author, and on one hand it's intere
Sarah BT
At ALA they announced a sequel to Our Only May Amelia and I decided I better read this one before the sequel comes out!

May Amelia is a great main character-she's funny and spunky and gets into a lot of mischief. The first part of the book tells the various adventures of May Amelia and her brothers and then one the new baby is born, the book shifts a bit. There's still stories about May Amelia's adventures, but the book becomes more about her than it was to start. (And I don't want to say much
4 1/2 stars

Reviewed for

Overall Review:
Journey to nineteenth century Washington state in Our Only May Amelia, a beautiful and touching Newberry Honor winner. Inspired by author Jennifer L. Holm's own family history, the book follows the misadventures of May Amelia, a girl who is anything but a "proper young lady". Readers will find May Amelia to be a one-of-a-kind character -- spirited and strong yet relatable and prone to making mistakes. The story is well-written, wi
Our Only May Amelia (May Amelia #1) by Jennifer L. Holm is an historical fiction novel set in 1899 along the Nasel River area of Washington state, inspired by the diary of the author's great aunt.

As the only girl ever born in her pioneer settlement, May Amelia has seven brothers and pioneer life to contend with. With a love for adventure and her sassy, tomboy ways, May Amelia can't abide her families insistence that she behave like a Proper Young Lady. She longs for one other girl to be living
Since this story is told truly from the perspective of a backwoods 12-13 year old, it was tough to get into the writing at first. It is told with all run-on sentences, and funny capitalizations within many sentences - I was feeling sorry for the editor(s)!

The story was well told, her adventures crazy. The only girl growing up with seven brothers on a farm near a backwoods logging town in 1899 would likely be a trouble-making tomboy just like her. I loved the outspoken foot-in-mouth comments she
Lisa Ard
'Our Only May Amelia' would make a terrific introduction to middle-grade historical fiction for boys and girls alike.

May Amelia is the daughter of Finnish immigrants, settled in southwest Washington near Astoria, Oregon. She is also the only girl on the Nasel River settlement. With seven brothers in her family, May Amelia is a stand out. She is strong, boyish and prone to mischief. This makes for great story-telling.

The format reminded me of the Little House series, with interesting stories tol
I remembered getting this book at one of the Scholastic fairs in middle school. And I LOVED IT. For the longest time I could identify with May Amelia because SHE WAS JUST LIKE ME at that age. Only girl in family of boys? Check. Always getting into trouble? Check. People always telling her she will never grow up into a Proper Young Lady if she didn't mend her ways? Check. Never wearing dresses because they got in the way of climbing up trees? Check.

It's a really interesting and different look at
Another unique voice, not unlike that of The Watsons go to Birmingham, telling the story in short episodic chapters. Again, I thought the "safeness" of each story was refreshing. (Perhaps I just need to read more middle grade novels.) I never worried that Holm would put May Amelia in any real danger, (SPOILER ALERT) despite the murder and the bear and the logging camp upriver. I enjoyed the unconflicted relationships w/ each of her brothers and, eventually, the boy she meets in Astoria. The endi ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
  • Carver: A Life in Poems
  • The Voice That Challenged a Nation: Marian Anderson and the Struggle for Equal Rights
  • Getting Near to Baby
  • Volcano: The Eruption and Healing of Mount St. Helens
  • Like Jake and Me
  • A Fine White Dust
  • Sugaring Time
  • 26 Fairmount Avenue (26 Fairmount Avenue, #1)
  • What Jamie Saw
  • Show Way
  • Journey Outside
  • Graven Images
  • Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night
  • Whittington
  • Upon the Head of the Goat: A Childhood in Hungary 1939-1944
  • Yolonda's Genius
  • Hurry Home, Candy
  • The Loner
Jennifer L. Holm is a NEW YORK TIMES bestselling children's author and the recipient of three Newbery Honors for her novels OUR ONLY MAY AMELIA, PENNY FROM HEAVEN, and TURTLE IN PARADISE.

Jennifer collaborates with her brother, Matthew Holm, on two graphic novel series -- the Eisner Award-winning Babymouse series and the bestselling Squish series. She is also the author of several other highly pra
More about Jennifer L. Holm...

Other Books in the Series

May Amelia (2 books)
  • The Trouble with May Amelia (May Amelia, #2)
Turtle in Paradise Queen of the World! (Babymouse, #1) Penny from Heaven Super Amoeba (Squish, #1) The Fourteenth Goldfish

Share This Book