Hannah Montana isn’t the only fictional character looking for the “best of both worlds.” In Kim Vogel Sawyer’s book titled Katy’s New World, sixteen-year-old Katy leads two lives: one as a dedicated scholar in a public high school and one as a dutiful Mennonite in her religious community. Sawyer gives the classic “coming of age” storyline a fresh twist by approaching it from the perspective of a young Mennonite girl.
Unlike Miss Montana, Katy is the epitome of innocence and naivety. She struggles against worldly influences from school, such as Jewel, a foster child who comes from a broken family. Because Katy’s mother abandoned both family and faith, Katy also faces speculation from within her own community: will she leave the faith as her mother did? Katy’s perseverance in spite of peer pressure illustrates the command of 1 Peter 3:16 to keep a clear conscience, “so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”
The characters in Katy’s New World are believable and engaging. Katy is particularly endearing, and she experiences typical teen dramas: dealing with boys, sowing her wild oats, and finding her place in the world. Whereas Katy is determined to be an image of Christ to her school friends, she struggles with an attitude of rebellion toward authority. Katy has disrespectful thoughts toward her father and aunt, and although she restrains from voicing snide remarks, she isn’t necessarily ashamed of them. Katy’s academic dreams are bombarded by blatant gender expectations within her community; women are expected to devote themselves to housework rather than to academia. Katy manages to accomplish both, but her pursuit of education remains unsupported by her family and friends.
Sawyer treats her story with care, removing the edge from elements that could have been written graphically, such as Jewel’s unhealthy family situation. Katy’s story is enveloped in innocence, yet demonstrates that denominational communities are not utopias. The book’s light approach is a refreshing, safe story for early teen girls who may be experiencing struggles similar to Katy’s. – Kathryn Kroeker, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
In Katy’s New World, author Kim Vogel Sawyer introduces readers to Katy, a young Mennonite girl who has been given the chance to attend public high school. Katy’s journey is full of challenges, temptations, and questions as she tries to balance her two worlds without abandoning her faith. While trying to fit in with the girls at school, Katy soon realizes that maintaining old and new friendships can be hard, but throughout her experiences, she finds guidance in God’s Word.
Sawyer creates a number of well-developed characters with whom readers can relate, like Katy and Jewel. Realistic dialogue and tension-building chapter endings keep the story moving. With lessons about respecting parents’ decisions and maintaining healthy friendships without comprising one’s beliefs, I would recommend this to teens who are struggling in either of these areas or looking for assurance that it’s okay to be different because of their faith. – Nicole E. Dynes, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
When Katy Lambright is given the opportunity to attend a secular high school outside her Mennonite community, she is ecstatic. But as Katy begins to adjust to life outside her community and begins to make decisions for herself, her relationships with her family and lifelong friends become strained. Can Katy balance her new world with the Old Order?