My Amish Boyfriend
Sixteen-year-old Shannon McNamara has had to grow up quickly. Her father died several years ago, and, with a little help from her neighbor, Mrs. Wimple, she has had to become a caregiver to her mother, who has recently taken ill to what the doctor has diagnosed as a temporary vertigo-type issue. This medical condition has Shannon’s mother constantly medicated and “out of it,” to the point of becoming addicted to Diazepam. Regardless of her extraordinary responsibilities, Shannon is a typical teenager, and when she steps off the bus on the last day of school, she has a three-step plan in place for her summer vacation: Get a job, get her driver’s license, and get a tattoo.
But that plan is tossed out the window when she learns that Mrs. Wimple will be leaving town for a few weeks and won’t be able to continue caring for Shannon’s mom. So arrangements have been made for them to stay with her mom’s family in Ohio for the summer --- a family Shannon didn’t even know existed.
Three-step plan on hold, Shannon and her mother board a bus bound for the country. When they arrive, another surprise is in store: her newly discovered relatives are Amish. Shannon’s mother apparently left the Amish faith years ago and has been all but shunned by her family and the whole community.
"MY AMISH BOYFRIEND, though written for teens, can also be enjoyed by adults. It’s a quick, delightful read that will likely please Amish fiction readers and Melody Carlson fans."
They move in with her grandmother (Mammi) and grandfather (Dawdi), where, despite having to sleep on the hard floor in the room she shares with her mother, Shannon is enchanted with the Amish lifestyle. But it’s not long before she realizes just how much work is involved and is left physically and mentally exhausted. She also realizes how much she misses the conveniences she’s grown accustomed to in her life as an “Englischer.” Just when she wonders how much more she can take, Shannon meets hot young Amish neighbor Ezra Troyer. In an instant, all of her reservations disappear, replaced with serious teenage infatuation and consideration of abandoning her former life to “become Amish.”
When her grandmother suggests that she move in with her uncle’s family, Shannon resists, not wanting to leave her mother. But her grandmother insists she can more than take care of her own daughter, so Shannon finally agrees. Besides, Uncle Ben and Aunt Katrina have more room to accommodate her (along with a real bed!). Shannon quickly connects with her 17-year-old cousin, Rachel, and starts learning all about the Amish faith. But she also learns something unexpected that puts her relationship with new love Ezra in question.
Melody Carlson is one of the most prolific Christian authors on shelves today and is well-known for her teen novels. MY AMISH BOYFRIEND is her third teen Amish fiction title in three years. As with all of her books, Carlson offers a nicely crafted plot and small-town charm. The characters are interesting enough, and I like the fact that Shannon is mature beyond her years. Her dedication to her mother’s care is admirable, as she is forced into a “role reversal” of sorts, where Shannon is the “mother” and her mom is the child. Shannon even goes so far as to get her mother to eat by withholding her Diazepam until her food is gone. What mother hasn’t resorted to some sort of bribery like this with her kids? But while it’s clear how much Shannon loves her mom, she is also a typical teenage girl with romanticized notions of life and love, and that is portrayed nicely as well.
There could have been a bit more emotional and motivational explanation regarding why her mother left the Amish community. It might have been nice for readers to see more depth in the relationship between Shannon’s mother and grandparents, or at least some sort of happy and satisfying resolution. However, it was only implied rather than shown. But then, the story is Shannon’s, whose growth is certainly evident by the final page.
MY AMISH BOYFRIEND, though written for teens, can also be enjoyed by adults. It’s a quick, delightful read that will likely please Amish fiction readers and Melody Carlson fans.
Reviewed by Lynda Lee Schab on March 24, 2014