Our Only May Amelia

Book review by
Wesley Sharpe, Common Sense Media
Our Only May Amelia Book Poster Image
Popular with kids
A historical novel set in the Pacific Northwest.

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 12 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.


May Amelia is blamed by her grandmother for the death of her baby sister.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that though May Amelia is a girl, this book has boy appeal too; six brothers and a male cousin share in her adventures. The drawings add to the book's appeal.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bysurfing4kate August 6, 2020

Not Appropriate for 9 year olds

My 9 year old was supposed to read this for summer reading. I am glad I read it first because there was no way I was going to let her read it. There is talk abo... Continue reading
Adult Written byHEH2009 July 6, 2017

Disappointed With the Unnecessary Language

I will probably be labeled a prude for this review, and that's ok. I know that other families do things differently from our family. Again, that's ok.... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byjb2017 December 14, 2016

Great, not too long of a read for girls about 10

“My brother Wilbert tells me that I was the first ever girl born in Nasel, that I was A Miracle.”-Our Only May Amelia, page 1. Though this book may be meant fo... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byBrigidArmbrust March 22, 2019

What's the story?

May Amelia hates to be told, "Behave like a proper young lady." She works on the farm as hard as any boy. Her birthday wish is for a little sister, but when baby Amy dies, she goes "grief mad" and runs away. Based on tales from her own family, author Jennifer L. Holm creates a believable heroine in a realistic historical setting.


Is it any good?

This historical novel vividly captures the harsh and lonely life of a girl living in the Pacific Northwest at the turn of the 20th century. The author builds excitement and suspense into each chapter: Chased by an angry mother bear and a cougar and nearly swept away by logs sent downriver from a logging camp, May Amelia seems to remain alive only by virtue of a string of luck. And readers learn that some things don't change in a hundred years: Brothers and sisters argue, parents set rules, and children run away.

To write this story, Holm delved into her family history: Her great-grandfather was one of the first Finnish-American settlers in the Nasel River Valley, but it was her grand-aunt's diary that inspired the title character.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the differences -- and similarities -- between daily life 100 years ago and today. What do you imagine life would be like without modern inventions like television, computers, and telephones?

Book details

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