The Trouble with May Amelia


The Trouble with May Amelia


Jennifer L. Holm


book cover, The Trouble with May Amelia

Historical fiction


Subjects you'll come across in this book:


  • frontier life
  • Finnish Americans
  • gender roles
  • family relationships
  • brothers & sisters
  • Washington State, 1900
  • resilience



Living with her seven brothers, her mother, and her stern father who thinks girls are useless, 12-year-old May Amelia intends to prove her usefulness.  She works hard to help her family on their land during a tough year in Washington State in 1900.  She also hopes to earn her father's respect when a enterprising businessman offers to buy their cash-strapped settlement and make them and their neighbors rich.



  • "Holm gets her heroine just right.  Narrating events in dryly witty, plainspoken first-person, this indomitable teen draws readers in with her account, through which her world comes alive."[1]


  • "May Amelia doesn’t spare us any of the harsh realities of her life, but she doesn’t skimp on the victories or the sweet moments, either.  In the end, she’s a few steps closer to knowing that it’s okay to be herself, even if there’s no one else quite like her."[2]



Of note: 

  • 204 pages, published in 2011
  • Sequel to Our Only May Amelia (1999), but each book can stand alone.
    • You'll still understand The Trouble with May Amelia even if you haven't read Our Only May Amelia.
    • The author explains enough about the characters and events in the first book for readers to know what's going on.
  • Written in first-person from the main character's point of view
    • Some of the plot incidents are from the real-life of the author's great-grandfather and grandfather
  • Includes some Finnish phrases that the author explains



Jennifer L. Holm



If you like The Trouble with May Amelia, you might also enjoy other historical fiction by Jennifer L. Holm:

  • Turtle in Paradise (2011-2012 Black-Eyed Susan nominee)
  • Our Only May Amelia
  • Boston Jane (trilogy)


Holm also writes other popular books: 

  • Babymouse (series, with Matthew Holm)
  • The Stink Files (series)



Chapters, The Trouble with May Amelia



  1. Kirkus Reviews,
  2. Damsels in Distress,