Thursday, August 12, 2010

Book Review: Somewhere to Belong (by Judith Miller)

I was reading a lot near the end of the school year - there was so much work to be done that it was great to be able to dive into some uplifting fiction stories.

Somewhere to Belong is the story of Johanna and Berta. Johanna is a young woman who has lived in Main Amana, a sort of devout Christian community, all of her life. In Main Amana, simplicity and community are valued above all things. Community members dress alike in greys and blacks and work hard at various aspects of the community (some do farming, some gardening, some work in the kitchen). Johanna has secretly always wanted to visit the outside world, but after her brother Willhelm left the community and never returned, she knows that it would break her parents' hearts to even suggest a visit. 
Berta is a young woman who has lived a fancy life in Chicago but who suddenly finds her family relocated to Amana. The culture of Amana is foreign to her, and frankly she doesn't like it. She rebels, she snoops, she causes no end of trouble for Johanna - who has been assigned to help Berta transition into the community.

All in all, I enjoyed the characters and the story in "Somewhere to Belong." I expected it to be a kind of average story about transitioning into a new community. Instead, there was a lot of drama and intrigue happening as family secrets were revealed and hearts were broken, as people confronted their fears and explored their true place in the world. I also thought that Miller did a pretty good job of painting a picture of what life was like inside small communities like this at the turn of the 20th century. 3 and a half Harper's Bazaar's out of 5.


Carrie said...

I read that one too. I still need to post my review. :) I love your rating system and how you change it to fit the book. Very creative!

Tiffani R said...

I read it so long ago that I couldn't even remember it really, until I read the back of the book.

I learned to do the rating thing from my friends at the Three Hands in the Popcorn Bag blog (check it out:

Looking forward to your review of S2B!