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A World Away

A World Away

4.1 14
by Nancy Grossman

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A summer of firsts Sixteen-year-old Eliza Miller has never made a phone call, never tried on a pair of jeans, never sat in a darkened theater waiting for a movie to start. She's never even talked to someone her age who isn't Amish, like her. A summer of good-byes When she leaves her close-knit family to spend the summer as a nanny in suburban Chicago, a part of


A summer of firsts Sixteen-year-old Eliza Miller has never made a phone call, never tried on a pair of jeans, never sat in a darkened theater waiting for a movie to start. She's never even talked to someone her age who isn't Amish, like her. A summer of good-byes When she leaves her close-knit family to spend the summer as a nanny in suburban Chicago, a part of her can't wait to leave behind everything she knows. She can't imagine the secrets she will uncover, the friends she will make, the surprises and temptations of a way of life so different from her own. A summer of impossible choices Every minute Eliza spends with her new friend Josh feels as good as listening to music for the first time, and she wonders whether there might be a place for her in his world. But as summer wanes, she misses the people she has left behind, and the Plain life she once took for granted. Eliza will have to decide for herself where she belongs. Whichever choice she makes, she knows she will lose someone she loves.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
At age 16, Eliza feels trapped by the conservative traditions of her Amish community. During her “rumspringa,” a time when Amish teenagers are allowed to “step out of the plain world,” she has the opportunity to be a nanny for a family in the Chicago suburbs. Eliza is thrilled with her new contemporary wardrobe and the modern conveniences available to her, but she didn’t anticipate falling in love with a neighbor, Josh, who introduces her to the Rolling Stones and the telephone, or discovering secrets that will significantly change her view of her family. Although Eliza’s new life is easier in many ways, the moral dilemmas she encounters are more complicated than any she’s previously met. In this honest and meticulously detailed first novel, Grossman offers a rare glimpse into Amish culture, bringing to light core values and the difficulties Amish people, especially teens, face living apart from the rest of the world. Eliza emerges as an intelligent, vulnerable heroine who gains wisdom and maturity from the mistakes she makes and the friendships she builds. Ages 12–up. Agent: Holly Root, Waxman Literary Agency. (July)
VOYA - Jessica Miller
Eliza Miller has grown up in a world removed from modern inventions and customs. More than anything, she longs to cast off her Amish kapp and experience the English world during her Rumspringa. Though her parents originally had no plans to allow Eliza any special freedoms, when a stranger invites Eliza to become her live-in nanny, her parents relent and send her off to Chicago for the summer. What follows is a whirlwind of new experiences—new clothes, contraptions, movies, and music. Josh, a cute neighbor, soon becomes more than a friend and Eliza is conflicted for she had been on the verge of courting with another at home. As each day passes, Eliza longs to stay in this new life, but when Eliza thinks of those she would have to leave behind, she realizes just how monumental a choice she must make. Is she still Amish at heart? With an easy-to-read style and an engaging main character, Grossman's novel creates an intriguing and appealing foray into the Amish world. Many details of Amish life are sprinkled naturally into the storyline, allowing readers to learn these facts outside of a school setting. Eliza's struggle for self-identity and acceptance make her a well-developed character, reflective of teens in all walks of life. Though too long for most reluctant readers, the self-exploration and romantic aspects of this book will appeal to many teens. Both school and public libraries will find this title an excellent addition to their collections. Reviewer: Jessica Miller
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—In this coming-of-age story with a cultural twist, Eliza, 16, yearns to break free of the constraints and predictability of her plain life as an Amish teen in Iowa. There are wonderful people in her life-loving parents, best friends, and Daniel, who would like to be more than a friend. Still, a restless energy drives her to see and know something different. For her rumspringa (an Amish teen's chance to explore the outside world), Eliza is able to convince her parents to allow her to work as a nanny outside Chicago. She sees modern conveniences such as electricity, cell phones, and computers for the first time and experiences putting on makeup and worrying about what to wear. She soon meets Josh, who appreciates that she is not a cookie-cutter personality like other girls. Although he is a conscientious young man, he arranges for them to attend a party where they both drink too much. Eliza becomes ill and in his rush to get her home, Josh drives into a garage door. Both teens accept that they made mistakes and pay for the damages. Surprises about Eliza's family and her perpetual state of wonder at the unfamiliar world she has landed in keep the story moving forward. Eliza learns about an aunt she never knew she had and her mother's own experience on her rumspringa. Ultimately, she reflects on what she has seen and who she misses and comes to the decision to return to her community. This novel is an easy read that provides a window into another way of life.—Joanne K. Cecere, Monroe-Woodbury High School, Central Valley, NY
Kirkus Reviews
This sensitive debut grabs hearts right away and doesn't let go. Eliza, a 16-year-old Amish girl, struggles against the restrictions of her culture. She loves her family and friends but yearns to see the modern world. She gets her chance when a visiting woman offers her a summertime nanny job, but she must convince her reluctant mother to agree. Amish teens are allowed a "rumspringa," a time of some freedom before they decide to accept baptism and join the permanent community, but her mother's vision of this "running-wild" time is very different from Eliza's. At last Eliza's mother consents, and the girl moves with a modern wardrobe to Chicago, where she encounters the wonders of movies, computers and microwaves. Soon she meets Josh and begins dating, also entering the world of modern girl rivalries. Later, Eliza will meet someone from her past and learn more about her mother than she could have imagined. Throughout, Eliza faces a terrible choice: Which world will she join, and which will she leave forever? The author writes with simple sentences that fit Eliza's simple way of life and convey her innocence. Readers experience their own world through the girl's naive eyes, marveling at technology, experiencing new relationships, and worrying through her difficulties. Grossman's love for her story seeps into every page, locking readers into the narrative. She produces a heartfelt tale that will be difficult for readers to resist. Simply lovely. (Fiction. 12 & up)

Product Details

Disney Press
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File size:
1 MB
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Nancy Grossman works for the Honors Program at DePaul University in Chicago, where she teaches courses in creative writing and young adult fiction. She lives in a Chicago suburb with her family. A World Away is her debut novel.

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A World Away 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Cupcakegirly More than 1 year ago
This was an interesting story and not at all what I was expecting. I liked having the insiders look into the Amish life and seeing the modern world through Eliza's eyes was entertaining, engaging and heartbreaking. The depth of this book is what surprised me most and I wasn't expecting to feel the range of emotions that I did. While I enjoyed this, the story was slow moving at first and honestly, the ending frustrated me. I wanted to know what happened next?! An Epilogue showing a few months or years into the future would've been nice. POTENTIAL SPOILERS: You can't give me a guy like Daniel and NOT tell me what happens to him?! *cries* Also, I wanted Josh to fight harder. Say those words. Be different than Matthew. If there'd been an Epilogue, Eliza would've either chosen Daniel or Josh would've kept in touch and shown up for her after college, etc. Also, what did Eliza decide to do?
rockygirl1 More than 1 year ago
I really loved this story.  Eliza is Amish and is pretty content with her life until a English woman cakes to her house and offers to let Eliza come spend her Rumspringa as a nanny in Chicago.  So Eliza decides to try and heads out. She has an amazing experience, but realizes how much she misses her family and friends at home. I thought this novel was an amazing intro to the Amish culture. Up until this point I hadn’t read anything about the Amish, and this was about an Amish teenager. How cool! Plus, I didn’t know anything about rumspringa  or that much about the Amish, other than they didn’t use electricity.  How uneducated I felt after reading this book.  I also didn’t realize that when you chose to leave the Amish culture that you were excommunicated from the community (and yes that plays into the story!) Eliza has a lot of important choices to make and none of them are easy. Sure life in Chicago is fun, but is it worth giving up her family? Morgan Matson gave us a beautifully written book. I truly loved reading the book and really enjoyed the picture that she had painted about both cultures. At the end, I felt as torn as Eliza!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good book, a little slow at times but overall a nice approach to Amish fiction for teens. Didn't really enjoy the ending, but hopefully we might see Eliza again. I just want to find one Amish fiction novel where the girl wants to pursue an education, as well as everything else!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really amazing from Angela
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You wont get sunned if you havent gotten baptized into the amish community if you had and went back on your promise you would get sunned you couldnt eat at the same table no one could talk to you or send letters to you it would be very hard to have your friends and family pretty much turn ageinst you if hadnt gotten baptized you could still send letters to your people and visit if you were shunned your letters would get thrown away untouched you would get ignored from enveryone you wouldnt be able to attend sunday services or pretty much do anything
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There i s only so much to say about this book it was awesome i hope to share it with others in the world .
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a pretty good read. The romance, drama, friendships, etc. were well written, however it seemed like some things in the plot would come to easy or happen to fast. Plus, Amish people are close to God and religion was barely mentioned. 4/5 stars. bookfinder--
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Please let there be a sequel!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is very great read today
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyable read. Interesting to read about Amish ways. Eliza's experience with both Amish and "English" cultures was well written. Although ending wasn't the choice I thought she would take either decision would have been a good choice. Hope author considers a sequel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A girl decidces if she should live the amish life or the "english life"