This Christian coming-of-age book is the first book in the "Katy Lambright" series by Kim Vogel Sawyer and is published by Zondervan.
Katy's New World is written for kids ages 13 to 16. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.
Katy Lambright receives permission from the deacons of her Mennonite sect to depart from tradition and attend a nearby public high school. Katy becomes friends with a girl named Shelby, and although Katy considers Shelby and her family to be worldly, she quickly discovers that their religious beliefs are quite similar to her own. Katy's closest Mennonite friend, Annika, is jealous of Katy's relationship with Shelby. Others in the Mennonite community begin to question Katy's dedication to their faith because she spends more time with people outside of their sect than she does with people within it.
Katy struggles to find a sense of belonging and wonders if she is compromising her beliefs by attending high school. Katy's grandmother Ruthie encourages Katy to follow the Lord's leading and to choose wisely. But when Jewel, a foster teen staying with Shelby's family, asks Katy to skip school with her, Katy agrees to ditch it with Jewel out of curiosity. Because of this, Katy's father is worried that he won't be able to trust Katy, but Katy proves to him that she has learned from her mistake. As time goes on, Katy becomes more comfortable with showing her faith and her convictions to both those within and outside of the Mennonite sect.
Katy belongs to a conservative Mennonite sect. Her family's faith in God is an obvious part of their daily lives, often shown through times of prayer and devotions, and Katy strives to maintain her close walk with the Lord. Shelby's father, Rev. Nuss, is a Southern Baptist minister, and he expects his children to follow the teachings of Scripture. Shelby participates in a Bible study held at the high school, and Katy's father eventually gives Katy permission to join this group.
Katy's father, Samuel, is a single dad, and he sometimes struggles with knowing how to interact with his daughter. While Katy finds him overprotective at times, he does his best to ensure her well-being, and he hopes to impart an unshakable faith in God to her. At the same time, he doesn't allow his own fears about things outside of his control to keep Katy from pursuing her desire to further her education.
Samuel's parents, Ben and Ruthie, are loving and involved grandparents to Katy. Katy feels comfortable going to Ruthie with her concerns, and both Ben and Ruthie seek to support Katy with their prayers.
Ms. Hamilton, Jewel's mother, is permissive, allowing her daughter to make her own choices without guidance or direction.
Other Belief Systems
At a corn-shucking party, Caleb, a Mennonite boy, is given an ear of red corn, which entitles him to kiss the girl of his choice. Caleb approaches Katy, but she runs away before he can kiss her.
Ms. Hamilton's live-in boyfriend, Hugo, is described as having a problem with keeping his hands to himself, and the family's social worker will not let Jewel return home until Hugo is gone.
If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:
- How does Katy express her disagreement or frustration with the adults?
What does she do to share her feelings?
How can writing your feelings down on paper and then destroying them be an effective way of dealing with conflict?
What are the problems with doing it this way?
How do you handle your emotions when you are in difficult situations or want to show respect to someone with whom you don't agree?
Katy is able to speak honestly about her feelings with her grandmother.
Who can you go to when you need to talk?
- What do Annika and two of Katy's cousins do to Katy in an attempt to prove that she shouldn't be spending time with people who are not Mennonite?
How does Katy respond?
Are the Scriptures her friends use effective?
When Katy responds with a Scripture, is it persuasive?
How was the Bible helpful to Katy as she was making difficult choices?
How is the Bible helpful to you when you make difficult choices?
When you find verses that seem to conflict with one another, who can you go to for help in discerning what God is trying to tell you through His Word?
- How do Katy's classmates view her as different?
How do Shelby's classmates view Shelby?
How is it easier for Shelby to hide her faith than it is for Katy?
Does Shelby hide her faith?
How do you hide your faith at school?
How do you share it?
- In what ways are Shelby's and Katy's beliefs the same?
How are they different?
In what ways do both girls attempt to demonstrate Christ's love to others?
- What does Gramma Ruthie say about the Amish tradition called rumspringa in which young people are given the opportunity to embrace the habits of the world before joining their respective church?
How does Gramma Ruthie relate rumspringa to the importance of Katy owning her faith?
How is Katy better able to embrace her faith by the end of the book?
Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.