Amish Guys Don’t Call is a bizarre book. Probably the weirdest I’ll read all year. There’s not a single aspect of the story that meshes with conventional YA, something that would normally be a good thing. I love books that challenge conventions, and aren’t afraid to strike out on their own accord. Unfortunately, Amish Guys Don’t Call isn’t that breed of unique. Instead it’s an extremely strange gathering of ideas meant for four separate books, mangled into one. The whole cornerstone of the story, the protagonist’s boyfriend being Amish, is pretty ridiculous in it’s handling and offers little actual insight. What results is a product with very narrow scope, offering few laughs and only fleeting moments of entertainment. Granted, I am an incredibly picky reader. Every part of a book has potential for me to criticize, and I definitely had a field day with this one. So in the interest of full disclosure, know I 100% recognize someone could easily love this book. It just really was not for me.
The first issue I came across was the pacing. It’s a pretty short book (under 300 pages), but protagonist Sam just begins dating Zach at 25% in, and doesn’t even find out he’s Amish until the 60% mark. You can imagine how frustrating it was to so clearly know a character’s “secret”, but have to go in circles with the protagonist for most of the book speculating about her boyfriend’s sketch past. I mean the book is called Amish Guys Don’t Call for crying out loud! I don’t think it should have been that big of a secret for the story to contend with. And then, maybe ten pages later, he (obviously, might I add) decides to return to his Amish community temporarily, a decision Sam blows way out of proportion in the most annoying ways possible. While all this going on (and with about 25% left of the book), author Debby Dodds decides to enter three more subplots into the forefront of things. None of them are well explored, and she dedicates about two short chapters to resolve each in an impossibly perfect way. Just as abruptly as she introduced the issues, they’re dropped. Maybe this would have been easier to overlook had the characters been in any way engaging, but alas…
…they held my attention about as much as wet cardboard. Sam could literally be any person on the face of the earth, as she has no discernible personality or thoughts that I’m at all interested in reading. Why is she so angry at her mom? Why does she make such poor choices in friends? What do her and Zach possibly talk about seeing as neither of them are interesting AT ALL? These are all good questions I still have no answer to. But while we’re on the topic of Zach, I also feel inclined to say him being Amish is the same as an article entitled “Lose 40 lbs in a Month With This Miracle Detox”. It’s fiction’s equivalent to clickbait, adding nothing to the story beyond a compelling angle to market it with. Yes, he has a funny dialect and no experience with technology, but the book could just as easily be called Orthodox Jew Guys Don’t Call and no one would be able to tell the difference. An idea with potential, but one that never addressed any deeper themes or commentary on society.
This one’s easy to fly through, but offers nothing that hasn’t been said a million different times, in a million better ways. Worth skipping unless you’re extremely interested.