15 March, 2011

OyMG - Review / Chick Loves Lit Blogoversary

It's Shanyn's Blogoversary over at Chick Loves Lit, so she's hosting a giveaway carnival--check out www.chickloveslit.com for the full festivities starting today. Great blogs including The Bibliophilic Book Blog, Bookalicio.us, and PageTurners are participating! 

I'm giving away an ARC of Amy Dominy's OyMG, complete with signed bookmark! I'll ship anywhere in the US and Canada (sorry International peeps, the tax man is coming for me next month, and I have to keep those pennies pinched).

Publication date: 11 May 2011 by Walker Books for Young Readers

ISBN 10/13: 080272177X / 9780802721778

From goodreads.com: Jewish girl. Christian camp. Holy moley. 

Ellie Taylor loves nothing better than a good argument. So when she gets accepted to the Christian Society Speech and Performing Arts summer camp, she's sure that if she wins the final tournament, it'll be her ticket to a scholarship to the best speech school in the country. Unfortunately, the competition at CSSPA is hot-literally. 

His name is Devon and, whether she likes it or not, being near him makes her sizzle. Luckily she's confident enough to take on the challenge-until she begins to suspect that the private scholarship's benefactor has negative feelings toward Jews. Will hiding her true identity and heritage be worth a shot at her dream?

Debut author Amy Fellner Dominy mixes sweet romance, surprising secrets, and even some matzo ball soup to cook up a funny yet heartfelt story about an outspoken girl who must learn to speak out for herself.

My review: When I was a bookseller, I often got asked (round about the Chanukah time of year) for a good YA book to recommend to Jewish teens*. For years, all I had in stock with strong Jewish themes were The Diary of Anne Frank, John Boyne's The Boy in Striped Pajamas, and Marcus Zusak's The Book Thief. That selection was joined last year by Sharon Dogar's Annexed. They're great books, but usually I'd bring them out and the customers would wrinkle their noses and gently say, "Maybe something less... historical. More... festive? I want to give her something fun!"

Well, it's a shame I'm not slinging books any more, because I finally have the perfect recommendation: OyMg is a clean, fun, disarmingly poignant, and pleasingly articulate novel with a strong Jewish heroine that I would have no problem recommending to anyone, whether the buyer was looking for substance or just entertainment. That Dominy blends both seamlessly, no debate is necessary.

OyMG indeed! This book blew me away--by its cover I was expecting your typical feel-good teen rom-com, what with the cute heroine shrugging among neon hearts and doodles. That isn't at all what I got. Sure, there was a cute guy (ok, not cute, more like blindingly hot and intelligent, to boot) so there's your rom- to the novel. And it was very funny, so there's -com for you. But there's so much more!

There's Ellie: totally smart, totally driven, and totally adorable--not that she's in any way flawless--the story is in a big part about her flaws and shortcomings. Dominy makes her character change and grow in completely believable yet somewhat unpredictable ways. Some things make her tougher (debating), and some turn her into a quivering bowl of jelly (Devon). She's charmingly relatable through the whole book, and a big part of why I liked the book was because I liked her character and kept hoping for her success.

There's Ellie's Zeydeh, who reminds me of my own grandpa, though I doubt he ever made a pot of matzo ball soup when he was alive. Zeydeh's personality and pride, as well as the loving relationship he has with Ellie is so realistic that at times I could hear his voice in my head, muttering about his soup recipe. Too much salt? Or not enough? The conflicts that arise between him and his beloved granddaughter keep the story real and engaging. (Incidentally, due to his foodie obsession Zeydeh also will make you very, very hungry for Jewish food. Dominy didn't even mention latkes, but I had to make and eat some as soon as I finished reading!)

Then, there's the dilemma Ellie faces: telling the truth about her Jewish heritage could cost her not just the scholarship she covets so badly, but the smoking hot boy she likes--who might even like her back--hilarity ensues! Er, no. I was expecting a comedy of errors, and instead got deep thoughts about religion and racism. The topics that normally would make me cringe (ok, the anti-Semitic discussions did make me really uncomfortable, but trust me, there's a great discussion there) had the effect of elevating this book from a fluffy teen comedy to a well-rounded, meaningful novel.

*I just want to clarify that I'm not just recommending this for Jewish teens. I'm recommending this book for teens of all faiths (including non-faiths! :D I'd classify myself as a lapsed Catholic/agnostic and I adore this book).

OyMG is Amy Fellner Dominy's debut novel

Visit the author online at www.amydominy.com

Tweet @amydominy, hashtag #oymg

Add this book to your Goodreads.com shelf 
Pre-order this book on Indiebound.org 

Win this book! Fill out the form below. You must be over 13 to give me your contact info (or have a parent's permission). I will ship to US and Canada only. A winner will be chosen randomly at the end of the day on March 22, 2011. The winner will be notified via email.

The giveaway is now closed... the random.org-chosen winner is Winnie L! Congrats!

ARC acquired from publisher at ALA Midwinter 2011.


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  2. I had a chance to read this recently, and I COULDN'T AGREE WITH YOU MORE. On the awesomeness of this book and on the latkes.

    I'm literally salivating.

  3. I'm so glad that this book is of much more substance than its cover! Thanks for the review! :)

  4. I can't wait to read this one! It sounds excellent!!