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Sunday, June 16, 2013

A Simple Song by Melody Carlson (Book Review)

Title: A Simple Song
Author: Melody Carlson
Publisher:  Revell Books

About the book: In her newest young adult novel, bestselling author Melody Carlson takes Katrina Yoder somewhere few Amish teens have been: reality TV.

Katrina Yoder loves to sing, but her Amish parents view singing as vainglory and a sin. Katrina's best friend, Bekka, is convinced Katrina should try out for American Star, a televised singing competition that Bekka has been secretly watching. Katrina resists the temptation until her father's health worsens. He desperately needs a surgery the family cannot afford. Katrina decides she must go against her parents' wishes to win the money needed to help her father. But how will she handle herself as an Amish teenager out in the world?

Teen girls will be swept into the excitement as Katrina ventures out of her quiet Amish world to become a reality television star. Will she be successful? And will she be accepted back into her community when it's over?

Available June 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.


My thoughts: This was a fun, light read and did a nice job of combining both the Amish and the English worlds while also helping to define the differences between them.  Katrina loves to sing, but was admonished once as a child for singing too loudly, so has been conflicted ever since about her joy of singing.  When she discovers that her grandmother once sang in a folk trio in the sixties, before coming back to join the church, she continues to wonder why her singing seems to trouble her parents.

Being left an old transistor radio from her grandmother, she covertly learns some songs from a Golden Oldies station.  During group singing, the other teens convince her to sing them a song.  One song leads to another, and then to a handful as they are all enraptured by her voice.  Bekka, her best friend, claims she sings better than the performers on American Star, a show she watches on her family's work computer when she is supposed to be working!

Her dad had been hurt in a tractor accident and his pain has gotten so bad that there are days he cannot get out of bed.  Fearing that his older brother (due to his nagging wife) might cut them off from the farm that sustains them, and knowing that her father could benefit from a surgery they cannot afford, Katrina decides to apply to American Star.  She knows that her family might cut her off, but is convinced by her friends (and brother and sister) that if she has a chance to win some money that could pay for her father's surgery, then she should do it.

I liked the way the author allowed Katrina to remain true to her Amish roots while competing on this English show.  Whenever she felt she had compromised her beliefs, she would come back stronger than ever to stay true to her beliefs.  She was able to make and help her new friends, and still be quite competitive just by being herself.  The producer also made it possible for her to meet one of the trio that sang with her grandmother all those years ago - so even though her grandmother had passed away, she was able to learn a lot more about her.  I think this also helped her to make some of the decisions that she did.

If you have a daughter who is convinced that she is the next "Voice" or "American Idol" then I think she would enjoy this book. While I am sure that it doesn't come close to the 'behind-the-scenes' of the real show, it might give them something else to think about as to why they want to compete, and what they are willing to compromise to get their dreams.
 
~I was provided a complimentary copy of A Simple Song from Revell Books in exchange for my unbiased review.~

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