The Ballad of Ami Miles
Kristy Dallas Alley
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: December 1st 2020
Genres: Contemporary, LGBTQ+, Young Adult
A teen girl on a quest to find her long-lost mother finds herself on a journey of self-discovery in Kristy Dallas Alley’s moving YA debut, The Ballad of Ami Miles.
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 brings home 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.
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.
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The Ballad of Ami Miles is a coming of age story set in a near future where women are no longer able to have children and Ami Miles leaves the survival compound, Heavenly Shepard, in search of her mother who left when she was a baby.
I was expecting your typical “escaping a cult” book with a little bit of survival thrown in thanks to the synopsis. What I got was an unexpectedly queer coming of age story featuring found family and first love.
As a narrator, Ami was relatable but a little young. According to the novel she is suppose to be sixteen but the way she perceived the world felt much younger (think 12-13). On the one hand, I found it exhausting at times, but on the other I think it had to do with Ami’s exposure to the outside world and in that sense, I appreciated it.
The story moved quickly and while I think a couple scenes dragged in places I found myself interested the entire time. My favorite aspect of the novel was the development of Ami’s romantic relationship– the details of which I will omit to avoid spoilers.
Overall, I gave this queer coming of age tale 4/5 stars and recommend it to anyone who enjoyed books like Gather the Daughters by Jennifer Melamed and Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan.
What About You?
Have you read The Ballad of Ami Miles? What did you think? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!