Hello and welcome to my stop for “The ballad of Ami Miles” by Kristy Dallas Alley book tour, organizated by Tbr and beyond tour! Thank you so much for this opportunity!
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Raised in isolation at Heavenly Shepherd, her family’s trailer-dealership-turned-survival compound, Ami Miles knows that she was lucky to be born into a place of safety after the old world ended and the chaos began. But when her grandfather arranges a marriage to a cold-eyed stranger, she realizes that her “destiny” as one of the few females capable of still bearing children isn’t something she’s ready to face.
With the help of one of her aunts, she flees the only life she’s ever known, and sets off on a quest to find her long-lost mother (and hopefully a mate of her own choosing). But as she journeys, Ami discovers many new things about the world… and about herself.
I received this book from NetGalley in exchange of an honest review. Thank you so much, Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group and Swoon Reads, for the chance to read and review it.
TW: racism, homophobia, bigotism
The ballad of Ami Miles is a book about self-discovery and I really liked reading it. Ami is a young girl and her whole world was the compound and everything she knew was through her grandparents’ lessons, through the Bible. How to be a good girl, what her “duty” and “destiny” was, the difference of roles between male and female, how female should act and dress, when to speak and how and so on.
Set in an almost apocalyptic world, where a sickness made almost every woman barren, Amy could be one of the last able to bear children and so, according to her family, it’s her duty to God. But Ami can’t do it, she’s not an animal to be bred, so she runs and her journey to find her mother, who left her when she was a baby, is journey that will open her eyes about the reality and herself, making her question beliefs and everything she thought was true, only because her family said so.
The story is intense, the prose fluid and Ami is a captivating main character, strong, stubborn and determined, willing to learn new things, to grow and face the truth. Because she was so sheltered she is naive and surprised of things other people consider normal and sometimes it was hilarious. I liked the side characters, too, complex and well written. Without spoilering anything, I really loved one of Ami’s aunt and her new friends were amazing.
I loved reading how Ami adapts hersef in this new community, how she grows and changes and finds her place in the world. Maybe the way she was able to question and discard a lifelong set of ideas in a just few days was a bit unlikely (since her mother wasn’t absolutely able in years), but apart from this, I really liked this book.
There are many themes in The ballad of Ami Miles, like racism, homophobia, bigotism. The way the women were treated in Heavenly Sheltered isn’t so far-fetched and unfortunately I could see a world where things like that could happen.
I really liked the queer relationship, even though I found it a bit too rushed, but it’s lovely and the way Ami was able to find her place with family and friends was beautiful and intense.
Overall, this a 4.5 stars book and I definitely recommend it to those who are looking for a dystopian, queer and apocalyptic book.
“You should see yourself! What, ain’t you never heard a woman cuss before? Lord, child, they have kept you in a little glass box all your life, haven’t they?”
“Running away and getting to Lake Point all by myself was the beginning. Being on my own and taking care of myself, making my own choices about the best way to get myself where I needed to be had shown me how strong I really was. I never would have thought I was capable of any of that, but I was. And then being here, meeting all these new people, finding kids my own age who could become friends, seeing how much bigger the world was than I had ever known—it was all just so big! And it all made Heavenly Shepherd look mighty small. How could I fit myself back into that little closed-up life?”
“Do you really think anyone has ever made it all the way through life without making a mistake? Mistakes are in the eye of the beholder, if you ask me. Sometimes we make choices and things don’t work out; that’s true. And then do you know what happens? We just move on. We survive.”
“Will I feel like I just found a piece of myself I didn’t even know was missing? Will I feel like I’ll die if he smiles at me and I’ll die if he doesn’t? Will I know because I’ve never felt so much like myself as I do when I’m with him?” Her face had gone from surprise to shock. “Because that’s how I feel with Jessie. And I know, I know, people can change, feelings can change, I get it! But that doesn’t mean these feelings I have right now aren’t real.“
Kristy Dallas Alley is a high school librarian in Memphis, Tennessee, where she lives with her husband, four kids, three cats, and an indeterminate number of fish. She studied creative writing at Rhodes College in another lifetime and holds a Master of Science in Instruction and Curriculum Leadership from the University of Memphis. In an ideal world, she would do nothing but sit on a beach and read every single day of her life, but in reality she’s pretty happy reading on her front porch, neglecting the gardens she enthusiastically plants each spring, and cooking huge meals regardless of the number of people around to eat them. The Ballad of Ami Miles is her debut novel.