I am so excited to be a part of the blog tour for The Ballad of Ami Miles by Kristy Dallas Alley, hosted by TBR & Beyond Tours! Thanks again for letting me participate, and thank you to Swoon Reads for sending me an ARC of this book for review! Be sure to check out the other posts this week and follow along with the tour schedule!
I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This has not impacted my review and all my thoughts are my own.
Synopsis from Goodreads
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 didn’t have a lot of expectations, going into this book, but it was still completely different from what I imagined. Opening up with the history of Heavenly Shepherd, an outpost and colony of people who fled during the government breakdown, these people reverted back to historic and bigoted practices: racism, sexism, homophobia, and general isolation. What I didn’t expect though, was the fact that Ami was meant to be breed like an animal.
This book is only 262 or so pages long and yet so much happens in this story. Ami runs away from home, getting away from the family who mean to make her a baby making machine. She is given information on where her mother might be and goes after her, ending up at Lake Point – a resort getaway turned encampment which is like it’s own town. She traverses through woods, escapes her family, and ends up in an entirely new world.
There were a lot of things I really liked about this book and I kind of wished it was longer. I wanted to see more drama between Ami and Papa or an attempt to get her back as she scrambled to get to Lake Point. But besides avoiding people and trying not to starve, the journey seemed easy.
Then we have Lake Point, where Ami meets kids her own age. And meets a girl that she might like. Which is wild for her, since she has grown up with the expectation that she is going to marry a man and have his babies. To serve him. Now, she has friends and a crush on a girl. We talk a lot about the differences between Heavenly Shepherd and Lake Point, but I really wanted the author to go into Ami’s transformation more. We see her thoughts and feelings towards certain things start to change, but surprisingly, Ami is very quick to let herself go with the flow and change her opinions.
Honestly, I really liked this book and I think I just wanted more of it. As it is now, it’s great. But with more in depth explanations or prolonged anguish, like trying to escape, questioning her sexuality, and really diving into the root of Ami’s racist upbringing, I think this book would have been longer and possibly even better.
Overall, I liked this story. I loved the discussion of sexism, racism, and homophobia that this book touches on. I think Kristy did it in a way that is very open, honest, and considerate. Though there are some moments where language needed to be considered and could have been changed. But, generally, a good story with a lot of in depth discussions going on. A solid // 5 stars for me!
If you had to swap lives with one of your characters, who would you choose and why?
What’s a fact/moment/piece of research that you love but weren’t able to include in this book?
What inspired the setting for this book? Why a survival compound?
What is your favorite and least favorite thing about writing a book?
What is your favorite piece of advice for writing or publishing a book?
What are you looking forward to the most on release day?
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.