Ellie Taylor is passionate about speech and debate, so much so that she attends the Christian Society Speech and Performing Arts summer camp in the hopes of earning a scholarship to Benedict High School. The only pickle is that Ellie is Jewish and her Zayde doesn’t think a Jewish girl at a Christian camp is such a good idea. Ellie has a warm and loving relationship with her Zayde, who loves to cook and peppers his speech with Yiddishisms. Ellie swallows any personal concern and focuses on her goal of beating out her competition in the final tournament at speech camp. Life gets complicated for Ellie when she falls for Devon, whose benefactor grandmother will decide Ellie’s final fate. When Ellie discovers that being Jewish might affect her chances of success, she makes choices that affect her relationship with her grandfather and challenge her personal integrity. Ellie is a likeable, believable character. Her interactions with her peers and the adults in her life ring true, with only a moderate amount of teen angst. Although many humorous scenes appear throughout the book, there is a great deal of thought-provoking conflict that will encourage readers to examine their own value systems. In spite of the pop culture title, OyMG manages to engage the reader on many levels. Issues about social class, religion, and family loyalty are skillfully woven into the story. Without being pedantic, Dominy educates and entertains in a compelling, contemporary story. In addition, the world of speech and debate is an interesting setting. Highly recommended for ages 10 – 14.
Barbara Bietz is a freelance writer and children’s book reviewer. She is currently a member of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee. Barbara is the author of the middle grade book, Like a Maccabee. She has a blog dedicated to Jewish books for children at www.BarbaraBBookBlog.Blogspot.com.