Samantha is already facing scrutiny and anxiety at the start of her junior year, as she's finally been accepted into the popular girls' clique called "The Sherpas." But when she realizes that her new boyfriend Zach was raised Amish, Sam must tackle a whole new set of challenges! Zach has chosen not to end his Rumspringa, instigating a potential shunning from his family. Not only that, but Sam's new friends can't miss this opportunity to tease and torment her.
Sam has never really come to terms with her parents' divorce, so when her world crashes down on her in the form of cyberbullying and Zach's apparent return to the Amish community, she reverts to old, illegal habits. Does Sam even want friends like these? And, will her culture-crossed love with Zach find a way?
This was a cute read made all the better by referencing some tv shows and movies I really adore. I lost track of the Buffy/Angel and horror movie references. That definitely got points with me! It's based in Pennsylvania, and I'm from PA myself, but a very different part. I knew as much about the Amish as Sam does in the beginning, which is not much at all. It's a little pet peeve of mine when people assume PA is mostly Amish, so it was nice that the author addresses that a lot of us are so far removed from it that we don't understand it at all.
This is definitely, absolutely YA. Cute little romances, hot guys, mean girls, drama, issues with parents... it pretty much checks every box. The slang was pretty overblown at times in my opinion, but maybe I'm just getting old! Sometimes I had a hard time understanding Sam's motivations. She is written as a bit nerdy, kind, and very intelligent, so why care about fitting in with the girls that are mean to everyone? She abandoned other friends to do so and I just didn't think it fit her persona. Maybe if she hadn't began ignoring older friends I would have bought that she simply wanted to belong.
Sam is almost seventeen and has never had a boyfriend. Her wild friend Madison has made it her pet project to find her one. Sam is interested, but she's a little awkward and has no experience. When they meet Zach, it seems perfect. He's cute and sweet... and a little awkward too. They converse easily and seem to genuinely like each other, but Sam senses something a bit different about him... his speech is a little unusual, he doesn't have a cell phone, and he hasn't seen any of the movies or tv shows she talks about. Well, you read the title. Even though it takes awhile to come out in the story, Zach was raised Amish. He chose to leave his family and live an "English" life.
Sam becomes wrapped up in Zach and ignores her other issues. She's frustrated with her mom, her new friends are being distant and catty at best, she misses her estranged father, and she still hasn't dealt with the dormant shoplifting compulsion that might not be gone forever. Zach is the bandaid over her wounds, holding her together. When he's called away over trouble of his own, her whole life implodes. Can she deal with him being gone, and will he even come back?
Sweet, easy read suitable for teenagers. I enjoyed it as a nice light read, an escape on a late summer day. Great first novel from the author.
I received a copy of this book from Net Galley and Blue Moon Publishers, thank you! My review is honest and unbiased.
I really enjoyed reading this book, because it was engaging, fun and I feel I actually learned some things from reading it. For me, it brought back the newness and freshness of youth and the uncertainty, and unexpected delights of first love and how intoxicating that scary first time falling in love can be. First off, Dodd is a careful and dedicated American writer. She has an all around good grasp of writing, POV, grammar, pace, and how to create a compelling story that stays with you after you've read the last page. What I love about this story is how Dodd examines the ways in which people insist on accepting mediocrity and in 'going with the flow' instead of thinking for themselves and making their own decisions. This story is an examination of that process and how it evolves and morphs over time.
Samantha must find a way to pursue love, and maintain friendships with people who might just be beneath her. She's fallen for an Amish boy and will that meet with the approval of her new click of friends? You'll have to read the book to find out. Dodd's writing is lovely and original, but also indicative of the writing of someone who really seems to enjoy writing. And Dodd's grasp of Writing About Place is excellent, as well. You can tell, with beautiful sections like this one how much she connects to what is around her and what she's describing: "A pile of colorful leaves on the sidewalk that someone had meticulously raked to the corner of their lawn made me smile. The dead leaves were more beautiful with their fiery colors than they'd ever been when alive."
This is such a good book, but not only for YA's but for those of us over fifty too, because it brings back so much of the youthful challenges we left behind. While its true I didn't have to contend with online bullying, email, text messages and other social media, the principles are still the same, jealous peers, crushing insecurities, and the fear of not being loved. Its all very universal and timeless and its this universality that we can all relate to, in this book.
Dodd also has superb dialogue, which is believable and elevated. When you read it, you really are hearing the characters speaking, because that's how real it reads, with a genuine conviction. One section reads thusly: "No, it was a valid question. I know I compartmentalize. I think I always have, even before my parents divorce. Its a coping device, keeping parts of my life separate from others. That's why I didn't want to tell my friends about us dating. I made that choice before I even found out you were Amish."
How many of us have thought, felt, and done just that? This is a wonderful book. I give it five stars and I highly recommend it!
This book was fantastic. It doesn't happen often that I feel tempted to pick up a YA contemporary, partly because my teenage years were hell and I don't feel the need to relive them vicariously through often equally miserable characters, and partly because I'm more of a fantasy gal either way (or a chick lit, er, chick if we are talking contemporary). That said, I knew I HAD TO read this book the moment I read the synopsis. I have been interested in the Amish for about a year now (ever since I discovered "The Amish Paradise" by Weird Al Yankovic, I'm not going to lie), and a YA contemporary with an Amish love interest sounded too good to be true.
The main character, Samantha, is a bit frustrating at times, but in a very endearing way. We were all there when we were teenagers: trying too hard to fit in with the wrong crowd (or simply with people who are not worth our time). Sam is friends with a girl called Madison and they are very close, but the problem is that Mad comes with baggage: namely a clique of Mean Girls whose cutting remarks are making Sam thoroughly miserable. She doesn't want to lose her only real friend, so she tags along, pretending she is someone she's not. The situation becomes even more untenable when Sam meets Zach and discovers the truth about his Amish background...
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It deals with complex topics such as cultural differences, cyberbullying, peer pressure, divorced parents/single-parent households and alcohol abuse, and it does so without ever feeling preachy (which is no mean feat, even in YA!). 4/5 stars.
I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
This is the sort of book you just want to get lost in forever. I love Debby Dodds' characters because they're delightfully imperfect, and yet so lovable and easy to relate to. You feel Sam's insecurities and slowly fall in love with Zack right along with her. You can't help but sympathize with the trouble she has in her relationships with her mom and Madison. And that's the other area Dodds really shines. This book isn't just about the English versus the Amish or a girl falling for a guy who's really different from her, but about relationships. Buding romantic ones like the one she has with Zack, which is just so sweet you can't read enough of it, friendships that have their highs and lows, and family relationships, where it seems every single character struggles. Absolutely loved this book and look forward to more from Dodds.
This is a pretty powerful little story. The first few chapters hit me hard. It reminded me so much of my own high school experience-- of trying to fit in and feeling like I was never quite right anywhere or with anyone and that other girls knew those things instinctively. It also reminded me of girls I see in my own high school classroom, and made me worry a little for them as well—and not just the ones on the outside, the ones on the inside too, and especially the ones hanging on by the hemline to the ones on the inside…So I had to set the book down for a few days. When I came back to it, I finished it in a day. For a teen romance, this YA novel has depth and breadth. Drug and alcohol abuse, popularity, parental shortcomings, shoplifting, social media bullying, religion, virginity, and spirituality—Debby Dodds walks her tough and fragile protagonist through all the minefields our own teens navigate every day. Samantha survives, and in doing so, provides a courageous and authentic model for her readers. I’ll give a copy to my school librarian, and put the one I bought for myself in my classroom.
"When Samantha falls for Zach, a handsome, mysterious guy, she never dreams his big secret is that he’s Amish. Amish Guys Don't Call entices you in with Samantha's quest for peer acceptance and love then it morphs into a tale of larger cultural and emotional issues. I relished following Samantha along the very rocky dating path as well as into heartbreak and social stigma. This coming of age story will leave you with a broader view of the world all while entertaining you."
I received a free eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Sam's finally starting to get her life under control in her junior year of high school, after all she's finally been accepted to join the Sherpas, the most popular girls in school. Her best friend, Madison, who put in a good word to get her into the Sherpas in the first place, has made it her mission to find a boyfriend for Sam. Things get complicated when Sam realizes that her new boyfriend, Zach, grew up Amish has chosen not to end his Rumspringa possibly bringing complete shunning from his family. Of course, Sam's friends can't help but torment her about all of this. Sam's carefully constructed world begins to collapse due to cyberbullying, never coming to terms with her parents' divorce, and Zach's apparent return to the Amish community. As a result she return to her old shoplifting habits. I mean, does she even want friends like the Sherpas anymore and will Zach find his way back to her?
As soon as I saw this YA Contemporary, I knew I wanted to try it. I mean, when's the last time you saw a mainstream YA Contemporary featuring the Amish? I live in rural central Ohio, not too far from Amish country, and it's always interesting to visit the area. I have to admit that I particularly liked how the Dodds explores Amish culture and religion in Amish Guys Don't Call. In fact, Zach is easily my favorite character in the novel and I really enjoyed following his journey over the course of the story. However, I just wish Sam didn't have to spend 49% of the novel wondering what Zach's deal was since she didn't realize he's Amish until half of the book has gone by. Personally, I thought that made her kind of foolish since there are so many hints aside from the fact that the story is set in Lancaster, PA. Actually, I think the summary and the title give a way a little too much, and I wasn't surprised by any of the turns in the novel. I may have preferred to see this story told from both the perspectives of Sam and Zach. My favorite thing about Sam is just how big of a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel she is. Now, if only her mother and friends weren't so terrible and useless.
I received an advanced free copy from Net Gallery. I found this young adult book to be very funny and realistic. The protagonist Sam moves to a new town and tries to fit in with the "in" crowd by allowing her search for a boyfriend to become the "P Plan". Sam meets Zach who is Amish and this leads to many things teens are facing today such as cyber bullying. Without giving too. I have information I would highly recommend this book to both teens and adults.
Why don’t Amish guys call? Because they don’t have telephones. When high school nerd and popular girl wannabe Sam meets this handsome guy named Zach at a party in a corn field, it doesn’t occur to her that he might be Amish. She knows only that she likes him a lot. If he likes her, too, it will help advance the plan she and her friend Madison have cooked up to change her from “Saint Sam” to an experienced young woman with a boyfriend. But there are complications. Zach doesn’t seem to be calling, texting or emailing as much as she would like. And Hillary, the mean girl leading the popular Sherpa clique, is out to get her. Sam also has a father she has not seen in years, a mother who ignores her, and a compulsion to shoplift. She and Zach start to fall in love, but he disappears back into the Amish community about the time everything is going wrong for Sam. Can the romance succeed? Will she have to eat lunch alone forever? Will she ever see her father again? This first novel by Debby Dodds answers all of those questions and keeps readers turning the pages.
I don’t normally read young adult novels, and I don’t have any connections with teens to help me check out the culture or the language being used the high school kids now, but Dodds deftly takes us back to high school as it might have been if we lived in Lancaster, PA and fell in love with an Amish guy. We can’t help but fall in love with both of them. The plot is loaded with suspense and we get the ending we hope for. I look forward to seeing the movie.
There is something intriguing about a culture that lives among us, yet is different in so many ways. Amish Guys Don’t Call is a powerful story that explores the Amish way of life, however, it also shows the reader that deep down there is a similar desire in all of us to be accepted by our friends and family. As well, the characters are well-developed and relatable, making this book an enjoyable read.
Having lived near a Mennonite community my whole life, I have an idea of the small town setting of this book from my own experiences. Dodds really takes the time to educate her readers on many aspects of the Amish and their beliefs. The differences between the Amish and Mennonites that are also described surprised me, and I have a new appreciation for the people that I see in horse and buggy on a daily basis.
The budding relationship between Sam and Zach is so sweet. Zach is quite old-fashioned and treats Sam with so much respect. Both of these characters are dealing with feelings of not being accepted by their friends and family. It is so interesting how Dodds shows two different worlds and how they both have this similar issue. It is the forgiveness that is so important in the Amish culture that seems to pulse throughout the novel, and makes it one to learn from.
Sam is a character that is easy to identify with. She has some flaws, yet is also a head strong and intelligent teen that simply wants to fit into this new town she is living in. When things start to go wrong, she discovers that there are many people that she can lean on. This book is truly inspiring for anyone who has dealt with any form of bullying.
Amish Guys Don’t Call is a unique book that explores different cultures and shares it similarities. There are interesting and relatable characters that make the book enjoyable to read. I would highly recommend this novel to anyone wanting to read a contemporary that is a little bit different in concept.
I started reading this with a prejudice against teen romance. It's not my thing; I just wanted to read Amish Guys Don't Call because of Debby Dodds' sense of humor. She doesn't disappoint. At first, it reminded me of Mean Girls, which I liked. Then this got better and better, and I loved it! Dodds perfectly captures the teen voice I hear in my high school classroom every day (and, even more accurately, the voices I overhear in the halls when my students think I'm not listening) without seeming like she's trying too hard. She neither idealizes high school life nor exaggerates its drama. Dodds threads this needs with a realistic timeline and a careful attention to the way high school problems feel to the victims. I admit I choked up a few times as I read about Sam's heartbreaks and joys, her relationships shattered and then tentatively mended. If you like books that feel shockingly real, pre-order your copy because you won't want to wait on Amish Guys Don't Call.
This was a fun YA to read, but it also covered lots of deep topics. I really liked the main characters, and especially loved the nerdy references to things like Buffy and horror movies. Even though the reader is able to figure out that Zach was raised Amish early on, it takes Sam a bit to figure it out- but it is believable that it would take her this long to piece together the clues. All of the characters are flawed in their own ways, which makes them seem like people you really would have known in real life during high school. My 12 year old daughter is eager to read this, and now that I have read it, I am comfortable letting her go ahead and read it- I think it will give us lots to talk about- cyberbullying, the importance of being true to yourself, the drive to fit in with the cool kids, how you can be friends with people very different from you, how people can change, how everyone has problems, etc.
Amish Guys Don't Call is not my genre, but the characters, humor, tone, and writing pulled me all the way through it.
This is that classic tale: girl meets boy. Boy turns out to be Amish. Hilarity ensues. A YA novel about that One First Love, fitting it at a new school, and all manner of other Feelings.
I'm an alpha male sort, usually entertained by UFC, Joe Lansdale, and similar...and yet I loved this book. It made me laugh out loud, and give two and a half damns about the emotional experiences of a teenaged girl. I read it in a single sitting, and wanted more when it ended.
I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Release Date: June 13th 2017
I’ve always been fascinated by the Amish culture for some reason and it’s always cool learning about other cultures as well. My first impression of Amish Guys Don’t Call was that it was going to be a fun and cute read. It ended up being a pretty weird book, to be honest. It still had it’s fun and cute moments though, don’t get me wrong. I even laughed out loud quite a bit.
Samantha was struggling a lot through this book, she had so many things going on in her life. Her parents divorce, her mother not always home, trying to fit in with the popular girls at school, and she also had a problem with shoplifting. This girl had a lot going on in her life! I felt like she did the best she could though and it helped having Zach in her life. Things with their relationship was a little awkward though, but I guess it was understandable since it was her first relationship and Zach had just left the Amish and was learning how the English (non-Amish) people lived. There were times though that I felt like Sam didn’t always act her age (16-17). I got a younger age vibe from her.
Zach’s dialogue was a bit strange for me. He talked really “proper” like instead of saying “don’t” he would say “do not” or instead of “can’t” he would say “cannot”. It was hard to get used to the way they he talked and worded things. He also threw in some Pennsylvania Dutch at times too since that was the language the Amish talked. That took a bit to get used to, but it was interesting. I wasn’t a huge fan of Samantha’s friends. They were basically the mean girls and they really bugged me. They all had their own things they were dealing with too though.
There were a lot of things going on in this book and there was one scene that was like a “WTF” moment and I had no clue what was happening and I was kind of shocked. It had to do with a haunted house, but I don’t want to go further into it because it could be a spoiler. But it was just so weird and I had no idea what was going on and after reading the authors note at the end of the book, it’s a real thing that happens now and that the author herself experienced. There are a lot of things in this book that the author herself experienced, actually. It’s hard to really point out exactly why I felt a certain way about some things without saying exactly what happened in the book and I hate spoilers. Knowing that a lot of things that happened in the book, happened in real life helped put it in better perspective and took away some of the weirdness that I got from it though.
Overall, I liked the story even if at times it was a bit strange for me. There was just so much happening and sometimes I was like “wait, what?”. Sometimes it felt like too many things happening in such a short amount of time (pages), so it felt a little rushed or things weren’t explained as well and came out of nowhere. Once I got used to Zach’s dialogue, it was easy to read and I was flying through the book in about a day and a half. It was hard to put down, because I was still really into the story and wanted to see how it ended. I was still rooting for Sam and Zach.
Amish Guys Don’t Call is funny, absorbing, and ultimately lifting. Dodds has a great heart for teenagers, and this title is one that should grace every high school and middle school library, and will also attract parents and teachers of adolescents. I read it free and early thanks to Net Galley and Blue Moon Publishers. This book will be available to everyone June 13, 2017.
Samantha is still smarting from her parents’ divorce and her father’s inattention when her mother moves them to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, which is the heart of Amish country. Samantha has been in trouble for shoplifting, and the urge increases when she is in stressful situations. To her surprise and delight, she strikes up a friendship with Madison, who in turn pulls her into the most popular circle at school. The one thing that gets in Sam’s way is her wholesomeness. She doesn’t drink, smoke, or use street drugs; not only is she still a virgin, but she’s never had a boyfriend. Madison tells Sam that all of this can end, with some careful time and grooming. Thus is “Project P” launched.
Despite the name of the boyfriend project, this book is free of explicit sexual situations. We see drug use, and sexual situations arise, so those considering whether this title is right for your teen or group of teens should bear this in mind. If in doubt, buy a copy for yourself and read it first.
At a big party held at night in a cornfield by Amish boys during their Rumspringa, a period in which some Amish groups permit their adolescents a taste of what the outside world is like and tolerate sometimes-extreme behaviors as a rite of passage, Samantha meets a young man named Zach. He’s handsome, and he’s drawn to her. We can tell from his behaviors (as well as the book’s title) that he is Amish, but it takes quite awhile for Sam to catch on. She is obsessed with his failure to provide her with his cell number. Is there another girl in the picture?
This story was a fun read, but I don’t recommend it to general audiences apart from those that really enjoy a wide variety of YA novels. Every nuance is explained thoroughly, and so whereas the text is accessible to students—with vocabulary at about the 9th grade level—most adults will want something more nuanced. That said, if I were still in the classroom, I would purchase this title. Because the subject matter might provoke conservative parents, I would not use it as assigned reading or use it as a classroom read-aloud, but I know that a lot of students will want to read it.
Recommended for teens that are not from highly conservative backgrounds.
Sam is trying to be a Sherpa with Madison. She has to put up with Hillary’s attitude and antics. Madison is her friend and she is willing to try. They come up with Plan P to find Sam a boyfriend. She sees a cute guy outside of the movie one night who follows Madison and her for a pizza. His name is Zach. He and his friends invite Sam and Madison to a party. Sam and Madison decide to use the party to distract Hillary. It’s out in the middle of a corn field and Zach is there. Sam thinks he is cute but she is socially awkward. Then she has to take care of Madison. She fears she will never see him again. Of course he calls after Madison gave him Sam’s number. They decide to go out. Things are moving along wonderfully between them. Sam is scared to let Hillary and the rest of the girls know. She doesn’t want to deal with the pressure. On their third date, the place they go isn’t what they expected and Zach comes clean with the truth. Sam is shocked and wasn’t expecting any of it. She doesn’t know what to think when Zach pulls away. It all falls apart when someone starts to cyber-bully her, Madison refuses to talk to her and Zach goes home to help his family. Sam is in a downward spiral losing control of her life and resorts back to old bad habits. This book was a bit sad. Sam has no family support and the popular girls use her as their alibi. She is quite the mess. Her mother is an even bigger mess. Her friends are not always nice, especially Hillary who is the quintessential mean girl. I felt sorry for Sam immediately. Then she met Zach. I pretty much knew what he was. The author gave enough hints throughout the story. I’m surprised that Sam didn’t catch on. I loved how sweet he was and how he treated her. He was already protective and a gentleman. When the secret came out Sam was mocked by the girls and the students at school. That was sad to see. Realistic but sad to see people make fun of those that are different. I also liked how the author made everything come crashing down. It forced Sam to make changes and look at things differently. Reconnecting with her father may not have been on the table otherwise. The trials Sam had to get through were difficult for her character and for me to read. However I liked the ending. Sam came out stronger. I give this story a 4 out of 5.
I picked this book up because I thought the title was funny. I wasn't prepared for how poignant and hard-hitting it was on tough teen subjects in addition to being hysterically funny! I'll be sending copies to my local libraries!
"Amish Boys Don't Call," is as compelling and fascinating as a first kiss. It’s Romeo and Juliet in Amish Country. Zach is an Amish boy who just wants to be like everyone else. Sam is a modern American teen with her own problems fitting in with the mean girl culture at her high school. Sam and Zach are not supposed to fall in love, but they do. And true love never runs smoothly, especially in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Teenage love angst takes on a new twist when the "Romeo" is Amish. In a truly likeable, humorous, and insightful story, author Debby Dodds brings us right into the world of Samantha, a smart girl who has landed in with the mean girls at her high school. When she falls for a guy who doesn't seem to be quite in step with modern teen life, she finds herself increasingly at odds with her so-called friends. Prone to processing her life with list-making (funny), Samantha, finds herself increasingly in the outs and falls back on bad old habits to cope. I liked the author's sensitive handling of Samantha's journey.
Wow! I could not put this book down; the first page totally captured me and I finished this in three days. I currently, or have lived, in all the places mentioned so that was a fun bonus as I read. However, familiarity is absolutely not needed to follow the story. a mall, a park, a pizza place..... It doesn't matter if the reader is picturing his/her town's local haunt or one in Lancaster, PA. I was very curious how the story would unfold because the author comes from an acting background and starts with action. It works VERY well in this novel. The Pennsylvania Amish culture and rumspringa are incredibly complex. The Amish aren't little robot-saints, post Nickel Mines massacre, walking around saying "We forgive; we forgive." I have a friend who left the Amish in his thirties and is shunned. He is furious at how the mainstream media tries to characterize the Plain people and fears that THEY are trying to comply with that media image. (He hates Mr. Kraybill, by the way.) I was shocked at the levels of "decadence" that the author describes occurring during rumspringa. However, I believe her research is accurate. Kinda scary stuff happening among the Amish teens. This novel captures the oppressive social pressure to conform felt by high schoolers. It reflects the schisms and power of high school cliques with compassion. Thank goodness that pressure eases post high school! The characters are complex and the plot twists and surprises. Debby Dodds is a master at the writing rule of "show, don't tell." I recommend this book for every junior high and high school library.
I was a little hesitant about this story. I sensed that it had the potential to be a little pedestrian (at best) and superficial (at worst). Fortunately the story did neither, rather Dodds went to places that I never would have anticipated. Sam is a very real character, likeable yet with enough flaws to be believable. I appreciated that the author took the time to flesh her out so that the story could move beyond that of a one dimensional teen romance.
The story engages with a range of issues rarely explored well in contemporary YA. From marriage breakdown (and the impact upon children), to shoplifting and drug and alcohol abuse, the story is about much more than a girl who falls in love with an Amish boy. Of course, it was this aspect of the story that I found intriguing. Dodds takes the time to explore the nuances of the Amish community, and without coming across as judgemental, exposes it for its shortcomings. In many ways this is a story that will encourage deep theological introspection in its audience without steamrolling them with a specific agenda.
While the telling of the story was broadly accessible to a YA audience I was a little 'let-down' by the telling. I prefer a telling which edges more towards being literary and so a failure to fulfill this need in me was always going to mean that the story would fall short. However, a wonderful story that certainly had me deeply immersed.
I very much enjoyed Amish Guys Don't Call. I grew up in an area where many Amish folks lived, so I admit I was both a little scared and excited to read this. I'm happy that the author made the story believable, silly and relatable. I recommend to those that enjoy YA in general, but also to those that want something a little different. Will read again.
It's been a long time since I read a book that is hilariously funny and highly educating at the same time. 'Amish Guys Don't Call' has it all - Sam is shoplifting whenever she feels stressed and unloved, she has some daddy issues since her father didn't bother to contact her since the divorce, she is also mocked by her so-called 'friends' or rather frenemies, but there's also swoon-worthy Zac (definitely my new fictional boyfriend) who has just left Amish community and is very serious about moral standards. Unexpectedly they seem to fit together perfectly.
Laugh out loud funny! Amish Guys Don't Call is a witty romantic comedy that entertains from beginning to end. Sam is a complex and relatible protagonist who falls for a boy that is far more than Plain.
Disclaimer: A free copy of this book was received through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
After being caught shoplifting Sam Stonesong moved from Philadelphia to Lancaster. She’s struggling to stay part of the popular crowd and hoping to find a boyfriend. When she meets a mysterious guy in a pizza parlor things start looking up. As Sam works to build a relationship her issues with her mom and her popular friends start to get worse, and Zach is definitely keeping secrets.
Zach is Amish. Which is painfully obvious from the first time he’s introduced because of the title. Amish Guys Don’t Call makes it clear there’s going to be an Amish guy somewhere in this book. If, for half a novel, the protagonist is going to struggle to work something out, then the reader shouldn’t know. It makes the protagonist look dumb and makes the story feel slow because HE’S AMISH OF COURSE HE IS.
The plot is all over the place with several subplots that are never really properly resolved. There are scenes that feel oddly out of place and sort of pointless (Hell House wasn’t really necessary for Zach to reveal he was religious, the Sunday work thing got that across). The book ramps up VERY slowly, climaxes...and then peters out without proper conclusions to any of the plots aside from the weird romance.
Every character is keeping secrets and aside from Zach they’re all pretty awful people. Their secrets are used to explain their actions but it’s still hard to sympathize with awful parents, catty teens and worst of all Sam. Sam is awkward. A phrase which here means has the emotional intelligence of a rock.
She makes “jokes” that are far and beyond cruel and is surprised when they fall flat. She’s the irritating character archtype who’s smart, unique and different (ugh people who enjoy twilight are dumb etc, people who party are lesser.). Her love interest immediately knows she’s “special”. It’s a character that’s been done to death and it’s not interesting.
Zach is the gem of this book. Despite his secret being not so much a secret he’s mildly interesting, a good human being and very likeable. His relationship with Sam is a bit boring, there’s no real reason for them to be attracted to each other at first and the chemistry is weak at best.
The teens also feel very fake. There is some knowledge of slang present but it reads more like “cool-mom trying to slang” than real teens. The “cyber-bullying” was an absolute joke where the worst insults were maybe at a 2nd grade level of savage.
It was a book that tried to do too much. Deal with divorce, drug addition, leaving an oppressive community, dealing with shoplifting addiction, dealing with bullying, dealing with first love, dealing with religion etc. As a consequence it didn’t do anything particularly well. The characters are two-dimensional and the plot is a bit of a mess. It wasn’t a terrible read and had some funny/relatable moments but it definitely doesn’t elicit high praise from me.
Following her parents divorce and a scape with the law, Samantha and her mother relocate from Philadelphia to Lancaster AKA Dutch Country. While she is attempting to navigate a complicated social structure, she meets Zach, who may be “the guy” she needs to accomplish Plan P — the search for her first boyfriend. While everything else in her world appears to be unravelling, Samantha also begins to worry that Zach may return to his Amish life. Will yet another person leave her behind?
When I saw this title, I was very intrigued. As a kid, I visited Dutch Country often, have quite a love for shoofly pie, and been interested in the ways of the Amish. This was an interesting portrayal, because Dodd opted to show all sides of the Amish. She shared the good things and the bad things. I thought she did a good job weaving these info bites throughout the story.
In fact, Dodd tries to show multiple perspectives on many of the issues in the book. I appreciate that approach, because it gives me something to consider and think about by presenting multiple angles. I really enjoyed Dodd’s afterword, where explained some of the choices she made in the book, as well as her inspiration. It confirmed things I thought, and also cleared up other things.
I really liked both Samantha and Zach. I found that they complemented each other quite well, and shared a lot of common issues. I honestly felt Zach brought a little more to the table, as his different experiences often helped Samantha see things with in a different light. It was pretty great how he could share parts of his culture with her in order to help give her clarity.
The romance between those two was very sweet and endearing. I loved seeing it slowly unfold, and the more time they spent together, the more each of them healed from their pasts.
I love a good redemption arc, and Dodd allowed so many characters to redeem themselves. There were a lot of character behaving badly in this book. Sam’s father left without a trace, while her mother was playing some kind of part-time role. Her friend was divulging her secrets and allowing them to be used against her, while another so-called friend was cyberbullying Sam. Sam also had her moments of bad behavior, but then someone stepped in, and set the redemption ball in motion. So, although there is the poor parenting and mean girls stuff, these characters all grew and changed for the better over the course of this book, and I am always glad to see that.
I found this to be a sweet and charming story of first love, friendship, and family.
**Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the review copy.
Samantha Stonesong is 16 and re-booting her life. After moving with her mom to Lancaster, PA, she's in a new school and has decided to be a new Sam, with a best friend and a boyfriend. She already has the best friend, pretty, popular Madison, who has gotten her a spot in the “in” crowd. And then she meets Zach, who is gorgeous, kind, likes books … and thinks Sam is worth his time. Although her new friends get a lot of mileage out of Amish jokes, it doesn't occur to her that that might be why Zach uses strange words, doesn't have his own computer, and hasn't had a lot of experience of popular culture. She's really happy for the first time in years, and then everything goes sideways and Sam falls back on old habits to cope.
This book is both hilarious and heartbreaking. Sam is believable as the anxious, naive girl who is so eager to have friends and be popular that she'll put up with some pretty crappy behavior from those friends. I loved her habit of making top-ten lists as a coping mechanism. These lists start out reasonable and then escalate into comic exaggerations. Sam is intelligent and clever, if inexperienced. She also has an untreated mental health problem she's trying to make go away by force of will. She does an impressive job of getting along and learning to do seemingly ordinary things like date in the face of all her challenges, but she's in no position to cope when everything falls apart at once.
Reading a YA romance as an adult is a lot like being a parent. You see all the red flags the characters miss, exactly like kids in the thick of the whole high school drama show. Everyone in this book has a lot more going on than the people around them realize: cute guy, mean girls, parents, everyone. Young readers might not notice when the adults have the same nervous habits as their children, but I really appreciated that compassionate touch. I also liked that caring, competent adults stepped in with guidance at a crucial moment, not solving Sam's problems for her but helping her get back on the rails.
On top of the good story, I got a cultural education, not only about the Amish but about contemporary teenage life, where not answering a text can damage a friendship almost beyond repair. It's only been a few years since I had teenagers around the house, but learned some slang terms I hadn't heard before.
Hilarious. Also profound in terms of its examining of religion and power. The lead character is smart in her academics but socially awkward. I know lots of people like that. The Amish guy is noble but the author looks at that community realistically.
This is for smart readers who like complexity in their plots and who enjoy characters that are believable with flaws and secrets. Highly recommend.
I really enjoyed this book. It took me a few (of the short) chapters to get into it, but it was well worth it - and then I couldn't stop reading it. I loved the way Debby used her experience growing up to add to more diversity in YA fiction.