Wednesday, December 12, 2018

1957 Amish Novel a Sweet, Enjoyable Little Gem

(Image from Barnes & Noble)
Esther Lapp loves life in her small Pennsylvania Amish community.  Her days revolve around helping her parents on their farm, studying the Bible with her aunt, and socializing and worshipping with other Plain folks.  Among others like her, the 9-year-old never gets mocked for her unusual lifestyle or stared at because of the simple clothes she wears.  

Everything changes when community officials visit the Lapp's farm, informing them that Esther must comply with Pennsylvania's compulsory education law or else.  Even though she's nervous about being out in the sinful world, Esther's excited to see what school is all about.  Unlike her older brother, Daniel, she would never get herself Shunned by leaving her Amish community, but she soon finds herself amazed at all the outside has to offer!  As Esther gains a new perspective, she starts to question the things she's always been taught and the way she's always lived.  Trying to make sense of the two contradicting worlds in which she now lives, Esther must find her way in a strange, new existence that challenges her worldview, her beliefs, and her faith.

When I mentioned how much I enjoyed reading novels about Amish life, my writer friend Kimberley Griffiths Little recommended Plain Girl by Virginia Sorensen.  Although the book was published in 1957, I'd never heard of it.  A pity, because it tells a sweet, simple story that's deeper than it appears to be at first glance.  It's a short novel, written for a middle grade audience, that asks some intriguing questions about tradition vs. change, faith vs. fear, tolerance vs. judgement, and forgiveness vs. anger.  That might sound too "churchy" for modern MG readers, but really, the lessons Plain Girl teaches are subtle and universal ones about embracing one's own identity and not just accepting other people's differences, but also learning from them.  Like Kimberley, I highly recommend this little gem of a book, which I very much enjoyed.

(Readalikes:  Hm, I've never read another children's book about the Amish, so I'm not sure to what I can compare Plain Girl.  Any ideas?)

Grade:



 If this were a movie, it would be rated:


To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of Plain Girl from Amazon with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.

6 comments:

  1. This one does sound like a gem and if it was recommended by Kimberley then I can imagine it was good. I just bought her last book in the Forbiddeen trilogy (Returned) and I can't wait to read it!

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    1. Kimberley is a great writer as well as a voracious reader, so you can definitely trust her recommendations! I hope you enjoy RETURNED. I've read the first two books in the series, but not the last. I need to remedy that soon.

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  2. I love these middle grade books from the 1950s. They may seem old-fashioned according to today's standards, but their values still ring true with me. :)

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    1. I agree and, actually, this one would fit right in today with the big diversity movement. It definitely teaches tolerance and shows all that we can learn from each other, if we just give others a chance.

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