Now Amy
by Elisabeth Ludbrook
Balboa Press

"Amy’s thoughts ran from the pavement she stood on to her pony and the sensation of flying over the streams and fallen tree trunks on their hilltop rides together."

Fourteen-year-old Amy is satisfied with life. She has a nice family and a best friend. Plus, there are a few local boys of special interest. Then she sees an advertisement for the Ellerslie horse races and notices that there is a "Ladies Mile Race." She wants to race her horse Friska and is sure they will win. When she asks her parents, her father says a girl her age should not even think about racing, but he doesn’t give her a definite no. Amy feels guilty for trying to be in the horse race when her father clearly is against it but still feels the desire to enter. She must decide if she should defy her father, and, if she does, she has to find a way to pay the entry fee.

This middle-grade novel, set in New Zealand, is about learning that there is sometimes a price for following your dreams. The dialogue reflects the country’s dialect, which, while familiar to native speakers, also adds a realistic touch to the narrative’s atmosphere for those from other English-speaking countries. There is also a helpful glossary at the end of the book for readers who might not be familiar with some of the terms such as “Kuia” (grandmother or old woman). Although some additional editing would increase the book’s overall effectiveness, the story has some intriguing elements. For example, both Christian and indiginous religions are represented in the book to show a difference between the townsfolk and the the indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand, the Maori. The book may appeal to middle-grade girls who love horses. It has a good moral lesson that is balanced by family members realizing that they should support each other's dreams.

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