ARC Review: Amish Guys Don’t Call by Debby Dodds

Amish Guys Don't Call by Debby Dodds Book Review blog header

Published: June 13th, 2017 by Blue Moon Publishers | Series: N/A | Length: 337 pages | Genre: YA contemporary romance | Source: I received an eARC from the publisher via NetGalley. | Possible Triggers: homophobia, bullying, drug/alcohol use

Amazon (available w/ KU) | Book Depository | B&N | Goodreads

Summary from Goodreads:

Samantha is already facing scrutiny and anxiety at the start of her junior year, as she’s finally been accepted into the popular girls’ clique called “The Sherpas.” But when she realizes that her new boyfriend Zach was raised Amish, Sam must tackle a whole new set of challenges! Zach has chosen not to end his Rumspringa, instigating a potential shunning from his family. Not only that, but Sam’s new friends can’t miss this opportunity to tease and torment her.

Sam has never really come to terms with her parents’ divorce, so when her world crashes down on her in the form of cyberbullying and Zach’s apparent return to the Amish community, she reverts to old, illegal habits. Does Sam even want friends like these? And, will her culture-crossed love with Zach find a way?

I’ve always found reading/learning about Amish people interesting, so when I saw this listed on NetGalley, I couldn’t resist requesting it. Besides adult romance, it seems nearly impossible to find Amish or ex-Amish characters in fiction so I was very interested in reading a YA book that featured an ex-Amish character as a love interest. While there were a decent amount of things that could’ve been improved with the book, overall, I thought it was a cute and entertaining read.

There were two major problems that I had with Amish Guys Don’t Call. The first was the author’s (unsuccessful) attempt at using teen slang. As far as I’m aware, the majority of the “slang” that the characters used weren’t actual words used by teens. I guess there’s the possibility that they were and it’s a regional difference in slang, but… I’m skeptical. There were some attempts to use language that was actually recognizable to me, but that still wasn’t used correctly. For example, at one point one of the girls says “Wow, now that guy… he is so on fleek” which is not how that phrase is used at all. I have mixed opinions on whether teen slang should be used at all (especially since it quickly changes and thus dates the book, sometimes before it’s even published), but if you can’t do it properly, then you really should just exclude it in my opinion.

The other thing that bothered me was the way that sex and drugs/alcohol were handled. Despite the main character being explicitly vocally against slut shaming at some points in the book, it still seemed like she didn’t approve of women having a lot of sex. She seems judgmental toward her friend Madison at times and she certainly doesn’t approve of her mom having sex. I get that it’s kind of gross and definitely uncomfortable to know about your parents’ sex life, but I don’t know… I think there could’ve been a better way for Dodds to show that Sam wasn’t comfortable with her mom being so open about her sex life. As for drug and alcohol use, there’s a lot of it, mostly by teens, in the book and it’s not until the very end of the book that anyone actually says “okay, maybe it’s not a good thing that teens are getting wasted every night.” I’m fine with books being realistic about drug and alcohol use by teens in books, but this was a little over-the-top for me and no one seemed to really care about it.

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Even with those two problems, I still really loved Amish Guys Don’t Call. Like I said, it’s pretty hard to find Amish or ex-Amish characters in fiction aside from adult romance, so I was thrilled to read a YA book that featured an ex-Amish character. Although I knew a lot about the Amish already, it was still interesting to learn a bit about them through Zach’s character, even if his discussions about his childhood did feel a little bit “info-dumpy” at times. Zach was a great guy, too. Even though he can be a bit old-fashioned due to his conservative Amish upbringing, he always listens when Sam tells him she’s uncomfortable or upset by something. I loved the relationship they had because both of them are really supportive towards each other and both do their best to be there when needed. They were also a super cute couple which is always a plus.

I also really loved seeing how much Sam grows throughout the novel. Sam goes through a lot with her new relationship with Zach, her friendships (especially with Madison), and her relationship with her parents. As a result, she matures a lot over the course of the book. I was impressed by how much she was able to change and was especially impressed with how she began to start trying to understand why her mom reacts the way she does and began to really take responsibility for her own reactions. I think a lot of people struggle to do these things and so I think it will be good for readers to see a character be open and mature enough to learn to do so. How quickly she changed was borderline unrealistic, but not in a way that bothered me at all.

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While I obviously didn’t think Amish Guys Don’t Call was perfect, it was still an immensely enjoyable read in my opinion. Although I had problems with the way some topics were handled as well as with the incorporation of teen slang into the dialogue, I found the characters and their relationships and development to be very enjoyable to read about. If you’re looking for a cute (and sometimes heavy) YA contemporary, Amish Guys Don’t Call is a good choice.

Thank you to the publisher for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Please keep in mind all quotes are pulled from an ARC and may differ from the final version.

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6 thoughts on “ARC Review: Amish Guys Don’t Call by Debby Dodds

  1. I’m glad you liked this one! Slang is so tough in books. It dates contemporary novels even when used correctly, and it sometimes pulls me out of fantasy/sci-fi novels if it just doesn’t flow well. It depends on how the author handles it, I guess, but it’s tricky!


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