Author: Crissa-Jean Chappell
Publication Date: January 18, 2017
Publisher: Merit Press
Age Group: Young Adult
Secrets Were a Way of Life.
But Secrets Have Gone Too Far …
Every year, Lucy waits eagerly for the arrival of the “snowbirds,” the Old Order Amish who come trundling into Florida on buses from the north, bringing Lucy’s best friend Alice, with whom she’s spent every winter she can remember. This winter is different. At sixteen, Alice is in the middle of “Rumspringa,” a season in which Amish teens try out forbidden temptations, in order to get them out of their system. Lucy is part of a different sect, in which teens aren’t allowed such bold experimentation, and she’s fighting to keep up as Alice races from one wild party to the next. Then, one night after just such a party, Alice vanishes. Wracked by guilt, Lucy knows that she should have been watching out for Alice, but instead, she was kissing Faron, an Older Order boy shunned by his society. Now, Lucy plunges into a search for her best friend—while also hiding her own secret, which could put her in even more danger.
Lucy is at a crossroads in her life and when other teenagers are trying to figure out whether they'll attend this college or that, a harder decision weighs on her. You see, she is Amish Mennonite. And although life seemed to work out for her in the past, we meet her when she's beginning to question the world around her more. She's got hopes and dreams albeit simple ones, but they don't conform to the slow-paced, hardworking life she currently enjoys with her father - who firmly believes she shouldn't open her eyes to possibilities.
Though this is a quiet novel in the sense that Lucy is living within the confines of her community and her sheltered existence, Chappell's lyrical prose shines and allows you to partake in Lucy's frustrations as well as an adventure. When her friend, Alice, disappears, she embarks on a journey to find her. She's assisted by Falon, who is a Snowbird and has been shunned by his own community and their differing views but yet instant connection was so enjoyable!
Truth be told, I didn't know much about Amish life prior to picking this book up. Nor did I know how different sects adhere to different rules. But I thought it was fascinating, especially when the Snowbirds arrive and there are kids going through Rumspringa, which literally translates into "running around." It's a time where adolescents are allowed to explore life on pretty much limitless terms. And it both scares and excites Lucy because her sect doesn't practice this right of passage.
That is why, as Lucy begins to uncover details about Alice's life, she is shocked and almost can't fully grasp what is going on given her naivete. The end result was a bit anticlimactic for me but was in no way overshadowed by all the other amazing attributes this books has to offer.
A compelling story, told in short chapters, I highly recommend this one. I truly believe it's going to be one of my favorites of 2017, which took me completely by surprise.
CRISSA-JEAN CHAPPELL (crissajeanchappell.com) was born in Miami and now lives in Brooklyn, New York. Her debut young adult novel,Total Constant Order, is a New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age and a VOYA Perfect Ten. Chappell’s second novel, Narc, is currently optioned for film. More Than Good Enough is her most recent novel, which Kirkus calls “compelling and emotionally nuanced.” Chappell holds a PhD and MFA from the University of Miami. She has taught creative writing and cinema studies for more than ten years.