Amy Fell­ner Dominy
  • Review
By – November 7, 2011
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​.Bar​baraB​Book​Blog​.Blogspot​.com.

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