Sunday, May 15, 2011

Review: OyMG by Amy Fellner Dominy

Ellie Taylor loves debate and public speaking and is really excited to go to a summer program that will both help her develop her skills and also earn a chance for a scholarship at a private school with an excellent program. She's Jewish and the camp is Christian, but open to people of all faith. So she doesn't think it will be a big problem, even though her grandfather is upset she's doing this.

Once she gets to camp though, she faces an obstacle. She really likes this guy, Devon, who happens to be the grandson of the woman who provides the scholarship. And he really likes her, too, but he suggests she downplay the fact that she's Jewish. Ellie surprised, but she does it. Soon, though, she's going to have to make a decision about whether or not it's worth it to her to stand up for her faith, even if it means losing her scholarship.

I really enjoyed OyMG. It reminded me a lot of being a teenager and being a Christian and never knowing how open I wanted to be about that. I really think that this book will be relateable to anyone of faith who has been uncomfortable outing themselves. And I think it may be even more interesting for people of a minority faith.

I really liked that Ellie's faith was genuine. She really believed in God and thought about his place in her life. This wasn't an issue of just her family's faith, but her own which was important and dear to her. Even so there was definitely family pressure. And I could also really understand Devon's point-of-view as well. It's hard to be a few generations younger and figure out how to deal with our grandparents and parents, racism, homophobia, etc. It's so easy to assume we somehow know better about everything, and to figure out how to approach these things with the humility of less life lived, but the conviction of our beliefs can be a point of struggle.

There's a part in the book where Ellie goes to church with Devon's family that I loved, as she tries to find ways to connect her belief with theirs. She thinks about God during this part,
"I closed my eyes. The choir had started a song, but the music faded in my head as I pictured God. When I was little, I always though of him sitting in heaven on a chair, like Abraham Lincoln in his Washington Monument. Even though I knew it wasn't really like that, I still pictured him that way, right down to the beard."*

I couldn't believe it. That is exactly how I pictured God for years, sitting on a chair like Abraham Lincoln. I'm not exactly sure why this would be so common, maybe because we don't have many images of kings on thrones in the States as part of our history, maybe because Abraham Lincoln is as close as we come to someone deeply revered in our national history, a bit of a king or god to us. But I loved this, because the conceptualization of God is something we don't often talk about, and yet it's something that was a huge part of being a young person growing up in an environment where everything was rooted in faith. Something deeply personal.

I really enjoyed OyMG, I think it's another excellent example of how YA books manage to honestly explore the role of faith in our lives without resorting to preachiness or condemnation. It's also just a fun and cute read.

Rating: 4.25/5
Source of Book: *ARC provided by publisher
Publisher: Walker


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