Our Only May Amelia

( 40 )

Overview

It isn't easy being a pioneer in the state of Washington in 1899, but it's particularly hard when you are the only girl ever born in the new settlement. With seven older brothers and a love of adventure, May Amelia Jackson just can't seem to abide her family's insistence that she behave like a Proper Young Lady. She's sure she could do better if only there were at least one other girl living along the banks of the Nasel River. And now that Mama's going to have a baby, maybe ...

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Overview

It isn't easy being a pioneer in the state of Washington in 1899, but it's particularly hard when you are the only girl ever born in the new settlement. With seven older brothers and a love of adventure, May Amelia Jackson just can't seem to abide her family's insistence that she behave like a Proper Young Lady. She's sure she could do better if only there were at least one other girl living along the banks of the Nasel River. And now that Mama's going to have a baby, maybe there's hope.

Inspired by the diaries of her great-aunt, the real May Amelia, first-time novelist Jennifer Holm has given us a beautifully crafted tale of one young girl whose unique spirit captures the courage, humour, passion and depth of the American pioneer experience.

∗Newbery Honour Book (USA), 2000

Ages 10+

As the only girl in a Finnish American family of seven brothers, May Amelia Jackson resents being expected to act like a lady while growing up in Washington state in 1899.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
"An unforgettable heroine intelligently narrates Holm's debut novel set in 1899 Washington State," said PW in its Best Books of 1999 citation. Ages 9-up. (Mar.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature - Children's Literature
Our Only May Amelia by Jennifer L. Holm may be a miracle to her family but her goal is to be like her seven brothers. Inspired by the diary of her Finnish-American grandaunt, Ms. Holm brings to life a fearless, high-spirited girl at the turn of the last century. From fishing with her brothers, to helping them make fishnets, to convincing the loggers that she can warn villagers by yelling when the logs are coming down the river, she is her own person. She mothers her baby sister when her mother is ill and when the baby dies, she is devastated. She runs away to her aunt and uncle's in Astoria and stays there for many months working through her grief. The story is filled with action, details of life in Washington State in 1899, and family love. It is not surprising that it was awarded a Newbery Honor Medal. 1999, HarperCollins, Ages 10 up, $22.00, $15.95 and $4.95. Reviewer: Jan Lieberman
KLIATT
To quote KLIATT's Sept. 2000 review of the Listening Library audiobook edition: This Newbery Honor book and Silver Award-winning story, told in first person by Finnish immigrant May Amelia Jackson, age 12, was inspired by Holm's grandaunt's diary. The story of the family, which consists of May Amelia, seven older brothers, and another baby "in my mother's belly," is set in a difficult, dangerous, ethnically mixed world of logging camps and farms along the Nasel River in 1899 Washington. May Amelia, who attends school on an island, is beset with chores and adult responsibilities but finds time for adventures like encountering a bear and almost falling through a swinging bridge. May Amelia experiences death, injury, and the effects of adult failings. A nearby port town seems the most sophisticated of cities. May Amelia relates in various ways to her brothers. (She sleeps with one, but in the story, this is related to the crowded conditions in which the family lives, not to sex.) Though she is admonished to be "a proper lady," she grows up with few female role models. She begins to cope with coming-of-age issues... [a] spunky 12-year-old heroine to whom youngsters 10 and up will certainly relate. KLIATT Codes: J—Recommended for junior high school students. 1999, HarperTrophy, 256p, bibliog, 20cm, 98-47504, $5.95. Ages 13 to 15. Reviewer: Edna M. Boardman; Retired Lib., Media Spec., Minot, ND, May 2001 (Vol. 35 No. 3)
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-May is the only girl born in the sparsely populated area along Washington state's Nasel River at the end of the 19th century, and the youngest in a family with seven boys. Inspired by her grandaunt's diary and after researching the Finnish-American community of that place and time, Jennifer L. Holm wrote this Newbery Honor book HarperCollins, 1999. It combines historical fiction with coming-of-age concerns as May Amelia Jackson relates everyday activities such as tending the sheep and helping her pregnant mother with household chores. She also includes straightforward descriptions of family conflicts, the stabbing of a local woman, and encounters with bears and a mountain lion. Most devastating for May is the loss of her baby sister and the cruelty of her paternal grandmother, but the girl's mischievous spirit adds many amusing moments. Emmy Rossum does a marvelous narration, handling both the light-hearted and the somber with youthful vocal veracity. Though the book has a large cast of characters and a variety of evocative events, the first-person narrative style works well in a recorded format. Clearly marked cassettes with good sound quality are ready for circulation in a sturdy, attractive plastic case. This is a useful addition to middle school and public library collections.-Barbara Wysocki, Cora J. Belden Library, Rocky Hill, CT Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
May Amelia, the feisty lovable heroine of Holm's fetching novel, "ain't no proper young lady." A 12-year-old girl with an adventurous spirit and "a nose for trouble," May Amelia is the youngest of eight children and the only girl. Life in the rough world of logging camps and farming in the wilderness of the state of Washington in 1899 is not easy, and May Amelia and her brothers have to work hard to keep farm and family going. May Amelia dreams of being a sailor and traveling to China, but is hampered by everyone, especially her strict Finnish-born father, who is always yelling at her for "doing what the boys are doing." The book chronicles May Amelia's adventures with her brothers, a brush with a wild bear, conflicts with her mean-tempered grandmother, and the long-awaited birth of a baby sister who later dies in her sleep. The story, which is episodic and somewhat shapeless, careens along before stopping without much resolution. Still, the robust characterizations captivate, the lilting dialogue twangs, and the sharply individual first-person narrative gives the material authority and polish. (Fiction. 10-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780064408561
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/28/2001
  • Series: Harper Trophy Bks.
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 174,245
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 900L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 7.70 (w) x 10.92 (h) x 0.58 (d)

Meet the Author

Jennifer L. Holm is the author of the Newbery Honor Book Our Only May Amelia and the contemporary young adult thriller, The Creek, as well as the other books of the Boston Jane trilogy: Boston Jane: An Adventure and Boston Jane: Wilderness Days. She lives with her husband and son and cat in the wilds of Maryland.

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Read an Excerpt

Our Only May Amelia

Chapter One

My Brother Wilbert Tells Me

My brother Wilbert tells me that I was the first ever girl born in Nasel, that I was A Miracle. He tells me this as we stand at the edge of the water, on the Nasel River, watching it rush by crazily. He is trying to cheer me up.

Wilbert has found me here on the Baby Island where I have run away on account of Pappa being awful to me. Even Wilbert says it is terrible that Pappa was awful to me today, on my own birthday. Wilbert is thirteen and my favourite brother which is something indeed since I have so many brothers, more than any girl should have. My secret birthday wish is to get a sister but I don′t know how likely that is.

These are my brothers:

Matti is eighteen.

Kaarlo is seventeen and one half and is really our cousin but I guess he′s sort of a brother.

Isaiah is sixteen.

Wendell is fifteen.

Alvin is fourteen.

Ivan is fourteen too. He is Alvin′s twin and they look as alike as two blackberries. Only Wilbert and I can tell them apart, even Mamma has trouble.

Wilbert is thirteen.

May Amelia Jackson is twelve. That is Me.

We live on the Nasel in the state of Washington. It is 1899.

Pappa is always yelling at me Don′t Get Into Mischief May Amelia when all I′m ever doing is what some other boy has done first. He says that I am a Girl and because I am a girl I cannot be doing what the boys are doing, that there is danger everywhere. Wilbert tells me that Pappa has had a hard life. That you can see the hardness in the lines of hisface, what with coming all the way to Washington after being pressed into the Finnish Navy and leaving Finland. That′s why he′s hard on me. But Wilbert′s wrong. Pappa doesn′t like little girls very much in general, and me in particular.

Mamma has a baby in her belly and Pappa said ′Children I sure do hope your mamma gives us another boy ′cause I don′t think I can stand another May Amelia. He said this in front of all the boys, after hollering at me for going up to Ben Armstrong′s logging camp by myself. I said But Ivan and Alvin go up by themselves and he said May Amelia, I will not abide any arguments.

But Pappa′ I said. Then he hollered so loud I′m sure they heard him over at the Petersen farm.

That logging camp′s a dangerous place for a young girl! he hollered. I don′t want you running around there, Do You Hear Me? Then his eyebrows got all fierce-looking and met in the middle and he shook his finger at me and That Was That.

I hate it when he scolds me so I ran away. I took the little rowboat onto the Nasel and went to the Baby Island and hid in the old sorcerer tree until Wilbert came to fetch me home. He′s the only one who knows about the sorcerer tree. It′s all hollow- like and fits a small child like me just fine.

I say Wilbert I reckon I would like to be buried in the sorcerer tree when I die, and he says Fine May but you′re not likely to die anyways. You′re only twelve and you hafta be old to die didn′t you know that?

I say I did but was just a-planning.

And now Wilbert is fooling around with Bosie, trying to get Bosie to jump into the water and chase after the little fishies. Bosie′s a scruffy dog. His hair is missing in places from where it′s been lost in fights with the mean raccoon who lives behind the milking barn.

It is starting to get hot, it being nearly June, and here on the Nasel the breeze is hiding, and the mosquitoes are trying to bite me the way Bosie is trying to bite the little fishies in the water. Bosie′s a strong swimmer but the Nasel is rough, and the water is dragging him downstream.

Wilbert, I say. Fetch Bosie out before he washes into the Shoalwater Bay.

The Nasel runs into the Shoalwater Bay farther downstream and then into the wide ocean. To the south overland is the mighty Columbia River, and on the other side of the Columbia is Oregon and Astoria. Astoria is the only real city in these parts and it′s a wicked place full of shanghaiers and seamen and all sorts of fancy folks, not like out here in Nasel where the only fancy thing is a new pair of shoes. At least that′s what Wilbert tells me, I have never been there myself. Our Aunt Alice lives there and she is very fancy indeed. She is coming to visit on account of my birthday, and so are my Aunt Feenie and Uncle Henry. I am turned twelve this very day and I have spent most of it hiding in a tree.

Wilbert whistles for Bosie.

Bosie is not a very good fisherdog. He has caught one fish only, and a small one at that, not enough even for a small child′s supper. When he gets out of the water he shakes his scruffy fur and gets Wilbert all wet.

Stop It Bosie! Wilbert yells.

Wilbert scowls fiercely and the scar crinkles under his eye from where Kaarlo decked him in a fight.

Let′s try and fish, I say. We can get some salmon and surprise Mamma.

Now that Mamma has a baby in her belly she is worn out all the time so I have to help her a lot around the house with the cooking and just about everything. That is why I hope the new baby will be a girl. Then all the hard work will be worth it.

Not to mention I sure am tired of being the only girl around here.

The Baby Island is a very small island in the middle of the Nasel River down from our farm. When I was a small child, I used to believe it was where all the babies came from on account of its name. It′s a good place for fishing even though it is where the Chinooks bury their dead. I have never seen a dead Indian here but I expect they keep them hid. Those Indians sure are clever.

Wilbert swears to me that the Baby Island is accursed on account of the Chinook spirits that wander there but I think he is only just scared and he calls things names when he is scared of them. He tells me our teacher Miss McEwing is a Witch and she is the most loveliest woman I have ever seen. Why she is sweet and nice and kind to us children, not at all like old Mr. Barton who used to whip our hands with pine branches. No indeed. Miss McEwing even lets us take off our wet clothes and sit by the potbelly stove to dry off when the weather is bad which is almost always it seems.

Wilbert doesn′t like studies and cannot speak English very well, only Finnish, and Miss McEwing is always correcting him, saying Speak English Wilbert Jackson. Mamma says all us children must learn to speak English or else we will always have trouble even though she and Pappa speak mostly Finnish. Nearabout everyone around here speaks Finnish. Our real last name is Juntilla, but when Pappa came over from Finland, they said it would be better for him if he had an American name and that is why we are Jacksons.

Wilbert has a hard time with the English and one time he peeked at my answer sheet when Miss McEwing was clear across the room looking the other way. No Wandering Eyes Wilbert Jackson, she said and ever since then Wilbert has been convinced that Miss McEwing is a Witch.

Even though Wilbert gets scared it is okay because he is only afraid of Miss McEwing and the Chinook spirits on the Baby Island. Nothing else scares him, not even Pappa′s belt. He has come all the way to the Baby Island which he thinks is cursed to find me, May Amelia, a no-good girl.

I have plenty of brothers but only one Wilbert.

We go to the part of the island where the water is slow, where the fishies are fat and lazy. The breeze blows gently here and I think it is not a bad thing after all to be spending my birthday fishing with Wilbert. There is nothing I like better.

My line is in the water and right away it seems I feel a tug. The line tugs hard and I tug back. A salmon′s silky fin slip-slides in the water.

I got one Wilbert! I yell.

Hold on May, he says and drops his own line and runs over. He helps grab the pole but the salmon is strong. It′s pulling hard and Bosie′s barking and barking and then all of a sudden Bosie jumps into the water and bites my fish.

Bosie Let Go! Wilbert and I say together.

But dumb ole Bosie has caught only the hook. The fish who is smarter than our dog has gotten away. Bosie′s yelping and whining on account of the hook that′s stuck in his cheek. Wilbert dives right into the Nasel, clothes and all, and brings Bosie back to shore.

He is a sad dog indeed by the time Wilbert drops him on the bank.

Hold him down May, Wilbert says. I gotta take the hook outta his cheek.

Bosie′s plenty mad ′the hook must hurt terribly′ but still I hold him down. Wilbert just sticks his hand right into Bosie′s mouth and pries the hook out. Bosie′s bleeding, but he′s happy to have the hook out of his mouth. He yelps and licks Wilbert′s face.

You sure are a dumb dog Bosie, Wilbert says.

We live in a valley on a homestead along the Nasel. Our land snakes from high upriver near Ben Armstrong′s logging camp right down to a bay by our house, where we have a small dock so that a body can tie up a rowboat which is very handy indeed. There are big fat mountains to the north full of tall pine trees and all sorts of Chinook secrets. Our farm has cows and sheeps and pigs and a fat barn cat named Buttons. We make milk and sell it and the cream too to the Sunshine Mill downriver.

Aunt Alice is at the house when we get home. She has come all the way from Astoria on account of my birthday. It is a long journey and she hardly ever visits because of the distance. But she always comes on my birthday.

You are my only niece, May Amelia, and that is cause for celebration any day, Aunt Alice always says.

Aunt Alice is Mamma′s sister from Boston and hasn′t got a husband but still she looks just fine to me. I may not have a husband if I can live like Aunt Alice in her lovely house in Astoria. Wilbert says that it has a flower garden in the back and real photographs of folks on the walls and always smells like a lady, not like a cow.

Mamma looks real tired when we come in; her dark hair is drooping out of the bun and her shoulders are sagging. She is rubbing the place on her belly where the new baby is growing. Mamma takes one look at Wilbert and me and Bosie standing there dripping wet and says, I sure hope you children caught some fish if you took a dunk in the Nasel.

Yeah, says Kaarlo nastily. You were gone long enough. Sure you weren′t up at Ben Armstrong′s camp May Amelia? he says, trying to get me into trouble.

Shut up Kaarlo, I say.

Don′t be mean to May, Wendell says, it′s her birthday. Wendell is such a good brother; he is always sticking up for me.

What did you catch May? Matti asks gently.

Did you catch salmon? Ivan and Alvin say together.

Hush boys, Mamma says. Did you catch any fish at all, May?

I shrug.

No, Wilbert says with a grin, but we caught a dog.

Aunt Alice shoos Wilbert and all the boys out of the kitchen and says, May, why don′t you and I fix supper and let your poor sweet mamma rest awhile before she drops that babe of hers right here on the rug?

Aunt Alice is wearing a fine rose-coloured silk dress with real shell buttons and her hair is shiny and golden and tied up in a fancy bob with ribbons. I don′t think I′ve ever seen Mamma in a dress as pretty as Aunt Alice′s. She most often wears a black cotton skirt and a white blouse. And since Aunt Alice looks so pretty and Mamma is sitting down drinking the cider that Alice has brought, I go about fixing supper real quiet-like so that they can talk and tell secrets. Aunt Alice treats me as if I am all grown up and not only twelve, which is fine by me because I mostly feel as if I am practically a hundred years old.

Aunt Alice says to Mamma, Dear Alma, why you′ve had some child in that stomach of yours forever it seems, haven′t you had enough? I thought you weren′t going to have any more.

Mamma just sits there and says, Alice are you here to help or to hinder ′cause I ain′t abiding any hinderers right now.

I′m a helper Mamma, I say.

You sure are darling. Thank God for May. Alice, I swear all these boys put together wouldn′t know how to butter a slice of bread if there wasn′t a woman in the room.

That′s just their nature Alma, says Alice smoothing down her fine skirt. After seven boys I would′ve thought you′d be used to them by now.

I hope you have a girl Mamma, I say. We can call her Little Alice after Aunt Alice.

Aunt Alice smiles at me. Why May Amelia you really are a dear, she says. Who would′ve thought there would be such a lady way out here in the middle of nowhere?

Nasel is truly in the middle of nowhere′ why, there′s nothing here but land and trees and elk and sheep and bears and boys. Mostly boys though. There haven′t been any girls born out here since me and I am the only young girl in the Island Schoolhouse. Sometimes I see Chinook Indian girls when I am in the woods but the closest Finnish girls my age are near Knappton, too far for playing.

The front door opens and Uncle Henry and Aunt Feenie come in carrying a box with a yellow bow. Aunt Feenie is Pappa′s sister and she is married to Uncle Henry and they are my favourite relations after Aunt Alice because they are so nice to Wilbert and me. Uncle Henry is much older than Aunt Feenie and Pappa says Feenie married him for his riches although I cannot imagine what Pappa means because they have no more money than us and we do not have hardly any at all. Mamma says Pappa is a stubborn old Finn who doesn′t like foreigners and not to mind him.

Uncle Henry is Scottish, not Finnish like everybody else around here, but I don′t think it matters one bit because he is the smartest person I have ever met. Why, he can speak five languages on account of being a famous sea captain. His real name is Neal McNeil and Mamma says that he changed his name when he came to America because of some trouble he had back in Scotland. Now he is just Henry Smith, which is very American indeed. He has a room in his house filled with nothing but books. We don′t have enough books to fill even one shelf. Pappa says they have a room for books because they could not have a baby on account of Uncle Henry always being away at sea.

Well, if it isn′t my favourite niece! Uncle Henry says with a smile, swooping me into his arms for a bear hug. He even looks like a bear, with his bushy red beard and broad chest and big belly.

I am all sticky and my braid has come undone and my shirt has got mud on it from the dunking in the Nasel. I do not look like a birthday girl, and in Wilbert′s old torn dungarees I don′t think I look much like a girl at all. Uncle Henry eyes me and shakes his head.

May Amelia, you look like you′ve been shanghaied! Uncle Henry roars with a laugh.

Aunt Feenie hands me the box. This is for you, May. Happy birthday dear.

Uncle Henry wanders off to the porch where Pappa is smoking his pipe and I tear open the box.

It is a baby doll. She is the most beautiful baby doll I have ever seen with a real china face and a white silk dress. Truly, it is the loveliest thing I have ever owned.

Do you like her May? Aunt Feenie asks anxiously. Aunt Feenie is not as pretty as Aunt Alice, but she has a kind heart. Her eyes are grey as a gull′s wing and have a sad pull to them. I think she wishes she had a child.

It′s a fine doll, Mamma says.

Wilbert, Wendell, Ivan, Alvin, Kaarlo, and Isaiah crowd around me.

It sure is pretty May Amelia, Wendell says. I reckon I could help you make another dress for it.

What′re you gonna call her May? Wilbert says.

Baby Feenie, I say, looking at my aunt.

Aunt Feenie smiles.

A minute later my big brother Matti comes in carting a wooden crate. He sets it down in front of me with a grunt.

It′s from all us boys, May Amelia, Matti says. Happy birthday.

I take the lid off the crate and inside is a fine, sturdy-looking carved wooden pirate ship attached to a long string.

It′s for Susannah, Alvin says. Susannah is my rag doll.

So that she can search for treasure, Isaiah suggests.

And go out on the Nasel, Ivan says.

Even when you can′t May Amelia! Wilbert says, and everybody laughs, even Kaarlo.

Wilbert and I go out to the porch where Uncle Henry is sitting with Pappa. Uncle Henry is a famous sea captain and has travelled everywhere. Why, he has been to the Sandwich Islands and the East Indies even. He always has stories about sailors being shanghaied all the way to the Orient. He says they fall asleep in their beds and wake up on a bunk in the rolling waves. You can take me to China anytime, I always tell Uncle Henry. I′d do anything to get away from Nasel. I′d be happy to get shanghaied, even if I did wake up on the China Sea.

Uncle Henry leans forward and puffs on his ivory pipe.

I was just telling your father here about the time I sailed around Cape Horn up to San Francisco and toward the Shoalwater Bay. I very nearly didn′t make it that time. When we reached Cape Disappointment, our ship got caught in an awful storm and nearly crashed into the cliff rocks, he says.

I guess that′s why the old sailors call it Cape Disappointment Uncle Henry, I say.

He says, I guess so Miss May Amelia, and wasn′t I nearly the fool to pay no mind to the salty old dogs?

At supper Mamma tells us children that Aunt Feenie is going to stay with us for a spell on account of Uncle Henry′s sailing trip.

Where are you off to now Henry? Aunt Alice asks.

Heading to San Francisco, Alice, Uncle Henry says between bites. Fine stew you got here Alma.

Aunt Feenie says she′ll be right lonely with Henry being gone and has decided to get a cooking job with Nora Fuller at Ben Armstrong′s logging camp which is situated a few miles away up the Nasel from our farm. The forest heading up to Ben Armstrong′s is too thick for roads so the loggers use the Nasel to get the logs down. We live at the bay of the Nasel, and that′s where all the logs from Armstong′s logging camp eventually float down to.

We′ll be happy to have you here Feenie, won′t we May Amelia? Mamma says with a wink at me. The boys will sort you out a bed.

I am so excited I can hardly contain my own self just imagining Aunt Feenie living with us! It will only be until Uncle Henry gets back from sea she tells me but I say fine, fine, that′s plenty long. It′s almost as nice a gift as the baby doll.

When everyone is in bed I whisper to Wilbert. Wilbert and I share a room at the back of the house, near the barn, and sometimes I can hear the cows lowing.

I wish we could live with Uncle Henry and Aunt Feenie in Astoria, I say.

We can′t May, Wilbert whispers back.

How come?

Because we just can′t, he says. We have to help mind the farm.

I know this too but I wish we didn′t have to always Mind The Farm. I am busy with chores and whatnot nearly all the time now since Mamma has got the baby coming, there is hardly ever any time for tricks and adventures these days. We are up at the crack of dawn and in bed later and later every night.

The door creaks open and Wendell creeps in and sets on our bed. Wendell is my second-favourite brother after Wilbert. Wendell wears eyeglasses on account of being blind as a bat and he squints at us in the candlelight. Pappa had to go all the way to Astoria to fetch the glasses for him.

Kaarlo′s snoring is too loud, he says, I won′t get a wink. I′m sleeping in here. Shove on over Wilbert.

Wilbert moves over and now there are three children in a bed meant for two.

I′ve been telling Wilbert here that I want to leave the farm, I say.

I want to leave the farm too, May Amelia. I′ll never learn to be a doctor in these parts, Wendell says.

Wendell has always wanted to be a real doctor and I suspect one day he will if he ever gets off the farm. Wendell is always saying that I can do whatever I want to do, that the best thing for me would be to get off the farm and go out into the wide world. He always tells me that I have sisu, which is Finnish for guts, and that I can do anything. It always makes me feel better when he tells me this.

Outside the window the sky is black and the stars are winking at me. I watch the fireflies dancing in the field and realise my birthday is nearly over, and I haven′t made my secret birthday wish yet. Mamma says that a wish made on a birth-day always comes true. I don′t know about that, though. Last year I wished for Kaarlo to stop being so mean to me all the time but he′s still the same mean old Kaarlo.

Still, it can′t hurt to try. I think hard but it′s an easy wish. I can′t tell anyone, not even Wilbert and he is my very best brother. I can′t tell him because he′ll never understand what it is like to be me, May Amelia Jackson, the only Jackson girl, and the only girl in Nasel.

I squeeze my eyes tight and wish hard with my heart that Mamma has a little baby girl so that I can have a sister.

I just made my birthday wish, I whisper. But Wilbert and Wendell aren′t listening to me.

They′re too busy snoring.

Our Only May Amelia. Copyright (c) by Jennifer Holm . Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Table of Contents

1 My Brother Wilbert Tells Me 1
2 There Ain't No Gentlemen on the Nasel 21
3 There Are Miracles and There Are Sheeps 43
4 No Kind of a Brother 63
5 Grandmother Tries Our Patience 91
6 How to Be a Proper Young Lady 109
7 Bad Days Indeed 131
8 Mothers Grow Up Young Here 157
9 What Happened on the Smith Island 173
10 The Things I Have Seen 187
11 A Sorry Girl Indeed 205
12 A Lucky Doll 225
13 Happy to Be Here 237
Author's Note 249
Resources 253
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 40 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2014

    I decided to read the book since my daughter's class was reading

    I decided to read the book since my daughter's class was reading it.   I thought it was a good book, but found some of the content to not be very appropriate for younger children.   The main character is  not liked by her grandmother who strikes her and draws blood with her cane.  There is a murder scene that is graphically described, and the murder victim is brought to the young girls home where the pregnant mother and another woman stitch the dead woman back together.   There is some swearing and the mother uses it towards the father.  There seems to be a lot of lying going on from the main character and her siblings.   There is talk of alcohol and smoking.   There is the death of a baby in the book and May runs away from home over it.   While it is a good book and interesting.....I think a parent should read it first before giving it to children under age 10 to read and see if they feel it's a book their child is ready for.  

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2009

    Fun story about growing up in an earlier time.

    This was a required scholl reading assignment but the whole family read and enjoyed the story. Well done.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2009

    anonymous

    DON'T GIVE AWAY THE ENDING!!! I'm getting it today for my Birthday!!! It's my 10th!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2009

    Very cute story

    I really enjoyed this book so much and would like to buy the second very much! This would be a great read for any little girl to read! :)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2007

    A reviewer

    This book was the best book i have ever read!! I would reccomaned this book for anyone wanting to no how it feels to have 7 brothers!! Im not a person you would find reading but i read this book in bout a day or so!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2007

    GRATING

    Normally you can't go wrong with a Newberry Award winner, this book is an exception. Characters are unrealistic, events are implausible, the 'heroine' is incredibly stupid (she knows bears are good at climbing trees but doesn't have the sense not to touch a cub), the entire story is awash in melodrama. This is not historical fiction, it is a tall tale without the humor.The author, try as she might, cannot make one funny sentence. The words 'sorry girl', 'no-good girl' are tiresomely repeated over and over. It is full of stale stereotypes, 'noble savage' Indians who have the cure for every ill, the girl who can cook for 20 and knows instinctively how to care for and infant while her older brothers are clueless. The terrible grammar is grating and doesn't add anything to the story. Supposedly this book was inspired by the author's grandaunt's diary, written between the ages of 12 and 18. You have to wonder why the author didn't just publish the original diary, what she thought she was adding by fictionalizing it. This book is an insult to a child's intelligence.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2007

    One of Eight

    May Amelia was a girl was the only girl in her Washington farm. She had seven brothers and her mother and father with her. May Amelia was their one and only. She was no proper young lady. She wanted to be just like any of her other brothers. Fishing on the Nasel and getting messy with her brothers was what she treasured most. She had a very harsh life, and Jennifer Holm had a very superior way of expressing the calamity and pain of her life. May had her hardships and the twilights of her life. Being the lone girl on the Nasel was tough for May since she would do anything, and everything to be like one her own brothers. She had done so many outrageous and extreme things just to do the things a boy was allowed to do. May had an Uncle in Astoria, which was a city down along the end of the Nasel. When he would come to visit his Finnish family on the shore of the Nasel it was then a very extraordinary occasion. He was a sailor, just like one of May Amelia¿s brothers wanted to be. When he left, which wasn¿t exceptionally time-consuming after he had just arrived. While May does a great deal to be like one of her brothers, nothing seems to be actually effective. May was a wonderful girl, who everyone knew, even though there were not that many people that lived along the Nasel River. There especially were no other girls. After may has so many things to have the privileges and the honors of being a boy, some one comes into her home and life that no one wanted within a million years Grandmother Patience. Grandmother Patience was the meanest person that May¿s family had ever met. She had treated May with no respect, and had abused her as if she had no feelings and could feel no pain at all. Jennifer L. Holm had described May and her life with her father¿s mother with such a deep passion with all the things that had happened to her from the things that Grandmother Patience had done to her. May was tortured inside and out, with her having no control. Since she was just a girl, she had to be a proper young lady. She couldn¿t say anything that would disrespect her elder, no matter how much she wanted to. It was tearing her up inside. This book was such a spectacular thriller/drama that it kept me reading and always interested. Every time you have to stop reading, it is like having to read an ongoing cliffhanger. It would always keep you interested, and having very depressing feelings for May Amelia. It makes you wonder if you could handle what she was going through, and how much more of it you wanted to read it to see what her decision to do is next. I would recommend ¿Our Only May Amelia¿ to everyone to see how suspenseful someone¿s life could be.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2006

    I love this book

    This book is great and i would reccomend it to anyone. I almost cried when baby Amy died.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2006

    great!

    even though this book may look really boring or dorky its not. this is one of my favorite books aand i think it always will be!!! the best story ever!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 17, 2006

    FANTASTIC NOVEL!

    I read this book for A.R and fell in love with May and her family, all except for the evil grandmother of course!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2006

    Could be my favorit book ever!

    Wow! This is an amazing story about a girl growing up in Washington with her seven brothers. She has different relation ships with each brother and is just like a boy herself, not like a proper young lady. Jennifer L Holms does such a good job at wrighting this book that I felt I really new May Amelia and all of her brothers. It was like I had just lived her life and felt all of the emotions she felt. I knew all of her brothers like they were my own too. This book is definatly on my favorites list and I couldn't put it down. I read it in one day!.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2005

    Amazing

    Our Only May Amilia I thought book was great. The book really took you into the life of May Amilia. I could actually relate to May¿s life. Anyone with an older brother or sister could really find yourself in May¿s situation. The way the author told the story made you actually feel like you were there, you were in that situation. Ever situation that came up in the story made it feel like it was happening right in front of you. At times it even made me cry (which is a good thing). Better than the Notebook. If any guys are interested in it they would love it too. It had excitement and it is thrilling. It was a very unexpecting book it surprised me in many ways. Men and women around the country should be reading this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2005

    OUTSTANDING!!!!

    I read this book for a summer reading list and I thought it was great!!! It was probaly one of the best book I have ever read!! I am going to end up doing it for my school project!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2005

    Our only may amelia

    this book is about may amelia going on adventures with her 7 other brothers. being the only girl on the nasel is hard. her mother ends up having a baby girl and may is so happy. finally her baby sister dies in her sleep and may amelia is crushed and goes to her aunts house.this book is not very happy so if you want a cheery book dont read this one. this book is the truth and the truth is sad and it hurts.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2005

    It is a very good bokks

    i think is a good book. its about a 12 year old girl who like to make trouble and go on adventures. She has 7 older brother.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 13, 2004

    The Lone Girl

    Being the only girl of 8 brothers is tough not to mention being the only girl in Nasel, Washington. The story takes place in 1899. May Amelia Jackson is not what you would call the proper young lady. She constantly is getting in trouble, whether it is being chased up a tree by a bear or coming face to face with a cougar she always manages to get out of it. May Amelia has to learn to understand with her father, to get along with her brother, and bear the cane of Grandmother Patience. At times you could not put the book down because of the excitement and curiosity it gives you. I liked the adventure and how I the author made me feel as though i actually knew the character. I just did not like how sometimes it just dragged on in chapters when it did not need to. There was a point when you could put the book down when you did get a little bored. I think this book would not be reccomended for boys, just girls from the ages to 9-14. Once you read this book maybe you will not think that your life is all that bad.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2004

    About Our only May Amelia.....

    About reviews, this is a must read I must say. It is a wonderful book about the first girl born on the Nasel in something like 1899, May. And her 7 brothers. Jenifer Holm did a nice job describing May and her adventures along astoria and the Nasel

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2004

    Our Only May Amelia

    I heard that I just HAD to read this book. It is good for the type who like books that make you cry and think, but I found it too depresing. It wasn't one of those books that just have a sad ending, or a sad part. It was like slogging through misery durring the entire thing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2004

    Just be yourself

    This was a very good book. At times it got sad, and at times it made me want to read more. When I was reading the book the chapters had a lot of pages and I was getting frustrated about it. When I first started this book, I was wondering, 'What is this book about' but once I read more I began to see the picture. The picture was just to be yourself. The book taught me a lot of different things like you can be anything you want to be, it doesn't matter what other people think of you, and believe in yourself. I would recommend this book to anyone who is an independent girl.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2003

    I couln't put it down!!!

    it was a great book. May Amelia had a sad, hard, and happy life.

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