Sunday, April 24, 2011

Review of The Trouble with May Amelia by Jennifer L. Holm

Holm, Jennifer L. The Trouble with May Amelia.  Atheneum, 2011.

The Finnish-American heroine of Newbery Honor-winning Our Only May Amelia is back, and her life is as tumultuous as ever.  On the one hand, being a 13-year-old girl on a farm in the wet middle of Washington State nowhere in 1900 means a whole lot of monotony.  On the other hand, having 6 older brothers (plus a male cousin), a fierce and dour father, a kind but busy mother, and penchant for trouble means that May Amelia's life is never quite dull enough.

Life is hard for May Amelia's community.  No one makes enough money from farming or from the logging camp, and the latter job is hazardous to one's life and limbs.  There are natural disasters and tragic deaths and accidents and financial ruin and disastrous fires and a favorite teacher who gets married and must quit.  Somehow, May Amelia stays buoyant despite all this AND the constant put-downs from the males in her family - so it's a good thing she's telling this story, or the reader might get sucked down into a bog of despair.  I'm SO glad I don't live by the soggy Nasel River in 1900! 

But May Amelia does just fine.  She's strong enough to take tough luck and scathing remarks - though even May Amelia buckles a bit under her father's scorn when she's made the scapegoat for the family's losing all their money to a scoundrel.  I'm betting that with her resilience and sense of humor, not to mention her scads of tough older brothers, she'll be a force to reckon with in a few years.  The local boys won't know what hit them...

Highly recommended for readers ages 9 to 13 who enjoy quirky historical fiction with tough yet tender heroines, and of course for everyone who loved Our Only May Amelia.


  1. I have been eager to read this one--My only May Amelia is a great favorite of mine!

  2. May Amelia looks so OLD on that cover! She's supposed to be 13, but she looks like she's 25!