Chrissa Chappell is a veteran in the world of YA fiction. Her personal website boasts of enough of teen fiction awards, including a Florida Book Awards Medal and an NYPL Book for the Teen Age, to definitively prove that your reading material is in good hands. She’s obtained a PhD and an MFA from the University of Miami and her fourth book is just as brilliant as you’d expect it to be.
Snowbirds follows the quest of Lucy Zimmer after her best friend, Alice, goes missing during a party. The biggest draw to the novel is that Lucy comes from a community of Beachy Amish in Florida (FYI, they’re the Beachy Amish because the name of the founder is Beachy, not because they live by the beach), and Lucy’s appearance at the party arouses suspicion that her community wants to push back down. Growing up protected by the church and the people with whom she’s lived her whole life, Lucy has rarely ventured outside of the Beachy Amish settlement, and never by herself. However, after Alice’s bloody cell phone is found on the beach soon after her disappearance, Lucy teams up with a shunned teenage boy named Faron to find her. Breaking out of her sheltered life, Lucy ends up seeing much more than she set out to find.
I think this book is wonderful because it breaks the mold of a young adult novel. While Lucy does end up falling in love and going on an adventure with Faron, the book ends (no spoilers) with her figuring out her own life and trying to pursue her own passions. In an ultimate feminist twist, the same goes for Faron. I really liked the strong individualistic choices made by the characters of Snowbirds and how the story stays interesting throughout the book. The Beachy Amish are way more interesting than I would expect, and I’d recommend this book to anyone looking to learn more about a little known sect of the greater Amish community.