ARC (Advanced Reading Copy). Published July 17, 2012. Hyperion Books (Disney Book Group). 396 pp.
Eliza Miller is Amish, and being part of the Amish world is all she’s ever known. Now that she’s turned 16, she wants to explore the life of the English (non Amish) during her “rumspringa.” During “rumspringa” teens her age are allowed to run a bit wild, with the hope that once they’ve sown their wild oats they’ll return to the ways of the Amish forever. Eliza jumps at the opportunity to move 3 hours away to become a nanny in an English household, and her parents reluctantly give their consent.
While living among the English, Eliza finds a new and exciting world that quickly makes her former Amish life seem dull and boring. Typical teenage behavior such as using a computer, talking on a telephone, watching a movie, dancing, wearing jeans, or trying on makeup are all new to her. Along with discovering new adventures every day, Eliza finds herself falling in love with an English teenager named Josh, and quickly finds herself losing her Amish ways and becoming more English every day.
However, along with the joys of discovery come the pain of loss. Eliza finds herself caught with a foot in both worlds, and will have to decide for herself if starting fresh in her new world is worth losing all she’s ever known in her old one.
“A world away” is a breath of fresh air in the world of teen fiction. Eliza’s journey to find herself allows teens to see their own world from the perspective of someone who has never lived in it, while also showcasing a different lifestyle with which they may not be familiar. The Amish may seem foreign to English teens who are not of their culture but, after reading “A world away,” high schoolers will have a better understanding of the two cultures and see how teens in both the English and Amish worlds have much in common with each other.