Alex H.’s Letter Essay #7: A World Away

Dear Classmates,

Recently, I finished reading the novel A World Away, a 400 page realistic fiction novel by job-loving author, Nancy Grossman. The “Associate Director of the University Honors Program” published her book A World Away on July 16, 2013. I first read this book in 6th grade after seeing it in the school book fair. I really enjoyed it, and I have read it many times throughout these three years of middle school. I really like this book and will probably read it many more times.

A World Away is about 16-year-old Eliza Miller who has grown up in an Amish society, with an Amish family, and is considered Amish herself. Since she is Amish, she hasn’t experienced things that most people don’t consider or question often; like putting on jeans and a sweater, or calling/texting her friends, or even driving in a car. But Eliza wants to experience these things, she wants to run wild in the modern world and be able to make her own decisions, also known as “rumspringa”. Eliza spends her summer as a nanny in Chicago, now she gets to experience the many things she has been aching to see and live! But Eliza has to make a difficult decision, will she go back to her Amish ways, or will she stay in the modern world as an average teenage girl; which boy is right for her, the charming and Amish Daniel, or the fun and lively Josh.

If I was the author I would have liked to learn more about the Aster family, the reader knew a lot about Rachel Aster, but only a little bit about her husband; the reader is given more information about the Aster children. I would have liked to know more about Mr. Aster because whether the reader realizes it or not, he plays a big role in Eliza’s life; he is part of her decision and her rumspringa.      The character development in this book was pretty strong, you could see how Eliza easily went from being naive to curious and stressed out. At the very beginning of the book, Eliza was just preparing for the usual dinners that her and her mother hosted for the English (an Amish term used to describe anyone who isn’t Amish). She then became curious about running wild in the modern world for her rumspringa. She wanted to know how cell phones and TV’s, etc. worked, she wanted to wear “normal” clothes, and drive in a car. She then became extremely frustrated/stressed and confused when she had to make her life decision, who and what lifestyle is best for her? Who can’t she live completely without?  I was happy when Eliza finally was approved by her parents to take the job of a nanny for Mrs. Aster and live in the modern world for her rumspringa. I couldn’t wait to read on and be with Eliza as she learned and used and saw things she didn’t know existed, or even waited her entire life for. I knew that Eliza going to the modern world was really going to change her/part of her was for the best.

In this passage, Eliza and Josh go out to fine Elizabeth Winters, someone her mom asked her to find. It turns out, Elizabeth(Beth) Winters is Eliza’s mother’s shunned sister. Eliza and her Aunt are meeting for the first time. “The woman smiled. ‘I’m your Aunt Beth,’ she burst out in a hoarse whisper as twin tears rolled down her cheeks. ‘Your mother was… is my sister.’ The next minutes were a jumble. She stumbled toward me until we were gripped together in a trembling hug, our tears mingling, gulping sounds that were my own cries, Beth’s hand stroking the back of my hair. Josh had stepped back quietly, but he was a part of it, too. Finally, Beth and I released each other, our hands grasping each other’s elbows.”(181) I liked this passage because I liked the way the author described how desperate Eliza and Beth were to hug and comfort each other. I also really liked the mystery involved with this secret that was kept from Eliza.

I would rate this book a 7.5 out of 10 because I really loved it because of the description and the look into an Amish person’s life in the modern world, but I felt that it carried on a little at some parts and could have been more detailed in those areas.


Alex Harris

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6 thoughts on “Alex H.’s Letter Essay #7: A World Away

  1. Hi Alex!
    I really enjoyed reading your letter-essay! You made A World Away seem so interesting. The whole concept of growing up in an amish society seems so compelling to me. Would you really read this “many more times”?

    -Sophia D

  2. Alex
    A World Away sounds like a really great book. I am really interested in the Amish lifestyle and know it is very difficult. The way they do things is so amazing and it is impressive that they don’t need many things and still live very well. I like your quoted passage because it seems like an important time for Eliza and this is a book I might try and read.


  3. Alex

    A World Away sounds like one really interesting book. This seems really interesting because it tells about a different life style that not many people live in and it would be interesting to learn about even though it is still fiction. It seems that Eliza has a very big life decision in this book and it really makes a book even more interesting? I might try this book. Great letter essay!


  4. Dear Alex,
    Great letter essay! You seemed to enjoy this book despite the need of more detail and parts that carried on. I will definitely think about reading this book as I do really like realistic fiction books.
    Also, thanks for the book you’re letting me borrow! So far it’s pretty good (don’t worry, it’s not damaged…yet…Just kidding!)

  5. Dear Alex,

    I really liked your letter essay! This book sounds really interesting! I have always found the Amish society interesting with how they live without doing certain things that we do everyday. After reading this I am thinking of reading this book!


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