Ellie’s parents say she was born debating, and there’s no denying she loves a good argument. She hopes the skills she developed in presenting her side of a case will get her a scholarship into prestigious Benedict’s school, and her ticket in may be performing well at the Christian Society Speech and Performing Arts summer camp.
Sure she’s Jewish, but that shouldn’t make a difference, right? OyMG by Amy Fellner Dominy has everything needed to be a good book to read and a good book to discuss for mother-daughter book clubs. Fourteen-year-old Ellie is funny, confident in her ability to think on her feet, but a bit insecure when it comes to boys. She loves her Zeydeh (Yiddish for grandfather), who lives just down the street and spends a lot of time at her home.
When she’s asked to lie about being Jewish, it brings up a lot of questions for her that may even bring out a debate in your own group with questions that explore values and faith. Is lying ever okay to get you something you want, when you know in your own heart you’re not representing yourself truthfully? Can you tell how someone will act based on their religion? How do you deal with family members you love who are prejudiced when you aren’t? Do children have an obligation to carry on in the traditions of their parents and grandparents?
There are no pat answers in OyMG; instead you’ll find lots of nuance to help you look at both sides of the issues—just like a good debate. I had a lot of fun reading about how debaters prepare for their arguments. The subplots of Zeydah’s soup competition and Ellie’s budding relationship with Devon also provide a few unexpected twists and turns that kept me guessing about how things were going to turn out until the very last debate. I highly recommend OyMG for groups with girls aged 12 and up.
The publisher, Walker Books for Young Readers, provided me with a copy of this book to review.