A few years back, I interviewed Crissa-Jean Chappell about her groundbreaking book NARC. She has a new book out called SNOWBIRDS, a great innocence to experience story about a Mennonite girl trying to find her place in the world. Have a look:
Every year, Lucy waits eagerly for the arrival of the “snowbirds,” the Old Order Amish who come trundling into Florida on buses from the north, bringing Lucy’s best friend Alice, with whom she’s spent every winter she can remember. This winter is different. At sixteen, Alice is in the middle of “Rumspringa,” a season in which Amish teens try out forbidden temptations, in order to get them out of their system. Lucy is part of a different sect, in which teens aren’t allowed such bold experimentation, and she’s fighting to keep up as Alice races from one wild party to the next. Then, one night after just such a party, Alice vanishes. Wracked by guilt, Lucy knows that she should have been watching out for Alice, but instead, she was kissing Faron, an Older Order boy shunned by his society. Now, Lucy plunges into a search for her best friend—while also hiding her own secret, which could put her in even more danger.
Review: SNOWBIRDS is filled with layers of description that breathe life into Lucy’s story. “I can’t listen to Alice anymore. Her head is full of dreams. I’ve got big dreams too. I want to go to college and learn about the ocean. Swim with dolphins and sharks. Watch loggerhead turtles lay eggs under the full moon. The world is a living thing that changes and grows. Try explaining that to Dad” (26). This and other sections really gave an intimate view into Lucy’s aspirations and experience, and helped me follow her journey to find Alice throughout the novel. Her relationship with Old Order outcast Faron also had wonderful details, and I found him both endearing and sympathetic. There were a few characters who came and went suddenly, and a few story spots that could have been fleshed out, but the ending was very satisfying and unexpected, and I left with a fulfilled sense of what Lucy’s next steps would be after the ending pages. Overall, this was a very engaging story, and a great selection for teen readers looking to understand the importance of defining themselves on their terms.