A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
This book is based on the author's family history and has been researched to be historically correct. It gives good insight into what life was like for Finnish immigrants who homesteaded in upper Washington State in the late 1800s. Farming was difficult, life was harsh, education spotty, and survival often a day-to-day struggle.
Besides showing how hard the life of immigrants can be, this book teaches that stubborn pride can be a person's worst enemy. It also shows how harsh words can injure a person, and how kind words can bolster them up again
Positive Role Models
May Amelia grows up in a harsh world, but it does not break her spirit. Sometimes she acts out of anger and revenge, but mostly she is trying to prove her worth as a girl, and as a person. Her father and brothers are gruff and mean, yet they treasure her in a weird way and miss her when she is gone. Even when at odds, they all work hard, together, to keep the farm afloat and the family intact. One brother, her aunt and uncle, and her school teacher are especially kind and supportive.
Violence & Scariness
A distraught farmer shoots himself, a boy loses his hand in a logging accident, a grisly murder brings cousins to stay on the farm, one with a healing gash in his neck, a harsh father whips his children and tells his daughter she is worthless, a teacher raps students' knuckles for speaking Finn instead of English, etc. Nothing is too graphically described, but violence is part of May Amelia's world and this story.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
May Amelia is berated as being useless, stupid, etc. Constant teasing, especially among the family, varies from soft jabs to harsh words that lead to fist fights and bad feelings. Also, some characters use an offensive ethnic term for Chinese immigrants, though it's accurate language for the time.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
When May Amelia's father loses the farm, he takes to heavy drinking, and that causes more family problems.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this book is the sequel the Newbery
Honor Book Our Only May Amelia, but can be read on its own. The cover suggests that May Amelia is an older girl, but it really takes place just six months after the first novel, when May Amelia is still 12, and the content is appropriate for tweens. There is some violence here: A distraught farmer shoots himself, a boy loses his hand in a logging
accident, a grisly murder brings cousins to stay on the farm, for example. And May Amelia is called names and made to feel worthless by her father and brothers. Readers will learn something about the weight of words. Also, this book is based on the author's family history and has been
researched to be historically correct. It gives good insight into what
life was like for Finnish immigrants who homesteaded in upper Washington
State in the late 1800s.
Is It Any Good?
This sequel has a compelling premise, and May Amelia remains a lovable, tragic, and funny character. Holm again captures the complicated flavor of life along the Nasel River among the Finnish immigrants, especially among this prideful farming family. Their world is harsh and cold, yet somehow fun and loving. There, May Amelia finds one adventure -- or misadventure -- after the next. Holm relates her tragedies -- big and small -- with both humor and poetry.
Though this second May Amelia book can stand alone, it's better when
read after the first, which gives it an even fuller historical
perspective (and a map of the area, not included in this installment). The sequel seems lighter and less rich than the first -- a Newbery Honor book -- focusing this time primarily on the family's squabbles. Even so, it's an engaging story with wisdom to impart. Fans of Our Only May Amelia will certainly find plenty to enjoy in this sequel.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.