Amy Fellner Dominy OyMG
256 pp. Walker Books for Young Readers 2011 ISBN: 978-0-8027-2177-8
Source: ARC received from publisher
Interest: 2011 Debut Author
Summary (From the publisher): Jewish girl. Christian camp. Holy moley.
Ellie Taylor loves nothing better than a good argument. So when she gets accepted to the Christian Society Speech and Performing Arts summer camp, she’s sure that if she wins the final tournament, it’ll be her ticket to a scholarship to the best speech school in the country. Unfortunately, the competition at CSSPA is hot-literally. His name is Devon and, whether she likes it or not, being near him makes her sizzle. Luckily she’s confident enough to take on the challenge-until she begins to suspect that the private scholarship’s benefactor has negative feelings toward Jews. Will hiding her true identity and heritage be worth a shot at her dream?
Debut author Amy Fellner Dominy mixes sweet romance, surprising secrets, and even some matzo ball soup to cook up a funny yet heartfelt story about an outspoken girl who must learn to speak out for herself.
Amy Fellner Dominy has written a debut novel that’s full of heart. A few of my girls in class read this before me and kept telling me how much they loved it, so I was eager to read it this summer. Within the first couple pages it became obvious why the girls enjoyed this one so much. Ellie is independent, funny and admirable. I know that OyMG is going to be a popular title with my girls this coming school year.
OyMG is a book that I’d love to incorporate in our curriculum. I can see it working with our diversity unit as a supplemental title for students to read after To Kill a Mockingbird. It would also work with my seniors when they’re working on their senior exit presentations since that entire unit revolves around an important 7-10 minute presentation. I see a lot of potential for this title because it addresses so many topics and issues–religion, speaking up for yourself, individuality, public speaking, etc. Plus, this could easily work with 8th grade middle school students. I love when I find a book that I know kids in different age ranges will enjoy. The girls in class who were raving about it are going to be seniors this year.
The writing and style really worked for me. Ellie’s witty comments were perfectly timed and written. The highly emotional scenes were flawlessly timed and poignant. The scenes between Ellie and her grandfather put me on an emotional roller coaster! At times I just wanted to hug them. Not too much later I wanted to lecture either Ellie or Zeydeh or both of them! They’re both wonderfully layered characters that you can’t help but connect with. And the chapter endings? They kept me turning the pages. I think almost every chapter left me thinking “What’s going to happen next?” One of my favorite chapter ending sentences is this one on page 77 “Beneath the Star of David, my heart shivered.”
Ellie is working through a lot in this book, i.e. trying to win a scholarship and dealing with religion and identity. While she’s going through this, she still has love on the brain. Amy Fellner Dominy balanced this really well. I never criticized Ellie for thinking about Devon or how she looked even though she had the other stuff going on. Ellie’s reactions and thoughts are very realistic and her relationship with Devon is age-appropriate. I do have to say that I love Megan’s saying “Respect the Sizzle.” That is the cutest thing and so catchy! I can easily imagine my friends and I saying that sort of thing when we were Ellie’s age. It’s true, right? There should definitely be sizzle when you meet that certain someone.
OyMG is realistic without being harsh. It’s well-written with lovable characters. It’s a book I highly recommend you read!