Young Katrina Bonner is known throughout her Amish community for her singing voice that sounds “like an angel.” Her parents, however, don’t approve of her singing outside of church functions because they believe it is prideful to call attention to one’s self. Katrina just doesn’t understand because other people sing without issue. When her grandmother dies, things start to make more sense. Katrina is left some of her grandmother’s belongings, including an old transistor radio, a record, and an old flowing 60s-style dress. After doing a little research, Katrina learns that her grandmother took some time away from the Amish community and became a folk singer with a band. She recorded some albums and was quite successful, then all of a sudden she disappeared from the music business. Using her grandmother’s story as motivation, Katrina decides to enter a nationally-televised singing competition called American Star so she can win prize money to pay for her father’s surgery. Since such an activity is against so many Amish rules, her parents allow her to do this during her Rumspringa days in order to help her decide if she really wants to join the church.
Katrina is a young lady, wise and mature beyond her years. She already knows what she wants out of life and is quite satisfied with her “simple” life. Her decision is reinforced when she attends the tryouts, and later, the competition, in large cities populated primarily by the Englisch community. They do so many things differently from her community and live a lifestyle totally foreign to hers. She can’t understand how people can tolerate so much noise and busy-ness. Katrina is determined to do her best at the competition, but she definitely feels the pull of her home and her family. For these reasons, Katrina is a great role model. She is kind and positive and always thinks of others. She uses God in her life to steer her in making good moral, Christian decisions. Even when she could easily put herself in the advantage of the competition, she still helps the other contestants and works with them. The storyline is good, but it’s nice to see a strong moral character as the protagonist.
The book is written for YA readers, which was a huge surprise to me. The storyline and characters easily replicate those of other novels intended for adults, and I didn’t find anything juvenile about the story. A Simple Song is more than that — it is a story faced with dilemmas and complex situations, and is an interesting read for young adults and adult readers. A Simple Song is clean in content and language, but there is one scene in which Katrina’s roommate comes back drunk (underage). Most likely readers have already seen this on television, but it is something to consider. There is nothing else that would be considered objectionable or offensive.
Rated G: Nothing is objectionable except one teen character comes back from a party drunk. Her actual drinking is never read by the reader.
Review copy provided by the publisher. Thank you!