Carol Awards: Young Adult: Finalist: Katy’s New World
Title: Katy’s New World
Author: Kim Vogel Sawyer
Publisher: Zonderkidz (Jacque Alberta, Editor)
Genre: Young Adult
Reviewed by: Lacy J. Williams
Schooling after the ninth grade? Not for normal Mennonites. But Katy Lambright hasn’t been normal for most of her life. After all, how many Mennonite mothers leave their husband and child behind? Katy gets a special exception from her Order to attend the public high school in town. But she immediately finds she doesn’t fit in—either at her new school or with the old friends she’s left behind. Should she just give up her dreams of school and go back to being plain old Katy?
Kim Vogel Sawyer’s warm storytelling voice comes through in this novel from the first page.
Kim Vogel Sawyer’s warm storytelling voice comes through in this novel from the first page, drawing the reader into Katy’s life. Not only does Katy have a vivid, unusual goal to accomplish during the book, but her home life is not the “same old” Mennonite story the reader expects. Her mom left. Her aunt can be abrasive. Her dad is way out of touch with teenage girls, even Mennonite ones. Sawyer uses all of this to make Katy a sympathetic, real girl with real struggles.
Sawyer keeps piling conflict on Katy so that there is no stagnant part of the story—but it all happens so naturally and fits with what a real-life teenager faces, which makes the novel engaging and realistic. Katy’s struggles between doing what’s right and what’s easy are presented naturally and the reader roots for her to make the right choice.
Other things that make this a Carol Award finalist include the snappy, current dialogue interspersed with more formal Mennonite way of speaking that Katy has, the sense of family connection Sawyer builds into the story even though none of the family members are perfect, and the ease with which the reader identifies with Katy.
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