The Ballad of Ami Miles

Feiwel & Friends/Swoon Reads. Dec. 2020. 272p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781250222138.
Gr 8 Up–In this debut novel, a post-apocalyptic society is on the brink of extinction because women in their childbearing years are largely unable to reproduce. Isolated from her peers, Ami Miles grows up in a religious, patriarchal family complex, Heavenly Shepherd. When a stranger appears at the compound, it becomes painfully clear that she is expected to carry on the family line and respectfully follow her grandparents’ wishes. With the help of other relatives, she runs away to find her mother who fled the compound shortly after Ami’s birth. After hiking several days, she arrives at Lake Point and is exposed to a range of new experiences: discovering the limitations of her upbringing, meeting other teenagers and people of other races, finding her mother, and falling for a girl named Jessie. While the focus on Ami’s internal thoughts limits dialogue and gives the story a slower pace, Alley takes on a number of complex topics, including individual freedom, women’s rights, sexual identity, and racism. Ami, newly empowered by all she has learned, returns to Heavenly Shepherd to offer a different vision of life to her relatives.
VERDICT The plot takes on many topics while leaving readers with unanswered questions about the fate of the complex and her grandparents. Yet this intriguing take on themes reminiscent of The Handmaid’s Tale could be an additional purchase for collections seeking more dystopian titles.

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