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12 Reviews
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Hug for "Amalee"
In her fiction debut, Dar Williams introduces us to Amalee, an only child whose work is turned upside down when her single father becomes ill. Though she is an only child, Amalee is surrounded by adults - her father's best pals.
The adults have been close since their days in college. None of them have children with the exception of Amalee's dad, so she alternates...
Published on April 24, 2004 by Little Willow

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Okay book where stuff happens. Not sure how to describe it.
What I really liked about this book was that it contained a complicated child protagonist and an unusual family situation--a single dad who had a whole group of dedicated lifelong friends. I REALLY appreciate seeing a support system for adult people that involves their friends and doesn't depend on romantic partnerships as the cornerstone of all important relationships in...
Published 18 days ago by Swank Ivy


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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Hug for "Amalee", April 24, 2004
This review is from: Amalee (Hardcover)
In her fiction debut, Dar Williams introduces us to Amalee, an only child whose work is turned upside down when her single father becomes ill. Though she is an only child, Amalee is surrounded by adults - her father's best pals.
The adults have been close since their days in college. None of them have children with the exception of Amalee's dad, so she alternates between feeling like one of the group or feeling too young around all of them. One woman is a therapist, full of advice for Amalee; another woman is a chatterbox. One is an aspiring artist; another is an aspiring chef, always cheery, who has Amalee assist him with a late-night cooking fest.
Amalee thinks about others frankly - a la Alice in the Phyllis Reynolds Naylor series - but often bites her tongue, keeping secrets to herself. She does not want her classmates and teachers to know her father is sick; she does not want her father and his friends to know that she herself has no friends at school.
Ultimately, Amalee finds herself thankful for the extended family she has in her father's friends - and finds some new friends of her own. Readers can relate to (and discuss) Amalee's fear of loss and her fear of being a bully-by-association. This is a heartwarming book, not too sappy, not too cliché. It is a clean, quick read, good for young readers and their families.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, April 24, 2004
This review is from: Amalee (Hardcover)
I received this book today as a gift, and I read it all in one sitting. I loved it. I related to Amalee, even though the details of her life as an eleven-year-old are quite different than the details of mine were, because her character is very authentic. The level at which she examines her life, the way she struggles between what she thinks and what she can manage to say, is intelligent, yet authentically preteen. As the novel progresses, the other characters grow beyond caricatures in the same way that I think an eleven-year-old begins to see adults (and herself) as layered people.
Best of all, the book just made me feel good without attacking me with a bunch of lame, blatant emotional missiles. And it achieves what I think is the responsibility young adult literature has over other types of literature: it teaches a lesson, offers the reader something to take with him or her about growing up, in a very genuine way.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars highly recommended for dar fans, kids, pretty much everyone, April 20, 2004
By 
This review is from: Amalee (Hardcover)
I thought Amalee was great. The story and characters were engaging, and the writing and imagery were certainly on a par with Dar's usual level of excellence. It reminded me quite a bit of Nora Raleigh Baskin's books, which are also set in Ulster County, NY (definitely check these out if you enjoyed Amalee). Dar has an exceedingly rare gift: the ability to tell beautiful, interesting stories via both song and novel.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worthy of Dar, August 1, 2004
This review is from: Amalee (Hardcover)
I was a little nervous when I started to read this book. I love Dar William's music, but I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this. I had nothing to worry about. I was very impressed by her writing style and the tale she had to tell. The book is very easy to read. It flows from beginning to end. The tale is one that everyone can understand and be moved by. Everyone's been 11 years old and felt like everything around them is going crazy. Everyone's had the same feelings as Amalee. And I'm sure everyone has parents who have at least one "crazy" friend. Or is a parent and has that friend.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Okay book where stuff happens. Not sure how to describe it., September 2, 2014
By 
Swank Ivy "Ivy" (Tampa, FL United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Amalee (Paperback)
What I really liked about this book was that it contained a complicated child protagonist and an unusual family situation--a single dad who had a whole group of dedicated lifelong friends. I REALLY appreciate seeing a support system for adult people that involves their friends and doesn't depend on romantic partnerships as the cornerstone of all important relationships in people's lives. I also did like seeing that Amalee herself was struggling with what she thought of as becoming a mean kid to survive, socially. I remember being in school and being pressured to be cruel, to be exclusive, to harass and hurt others in order to gain the approval of the people I cared about, and that certainly wasn't the kind of person I wanted to be. I liked that Williams sympathetically portrayed a child in this situation.

But I didn't much care for the storytelling--it felt odd and uneven, sometimes like the character was talking to me directly and sometimes more like she was just living and letting me observe, and there was a pervasive feeling like something other than the characters was driving the story. Amalee has popular but cruel friends whom she doesn't really like, Amalee gets distracted by home problems, Amalee finds a friend who's authentic, Amalee has figured out friendship. Or Amalee has a frenemy who tries to guilt her into hanging out, Amalee explodes at her when she says something horrible and cruel, Amalee is about to suffer terrible punishment over the results of her lashing out, Amalee is rescued by a caring adult and everyone says I'm sorry. Or Amalee's dad's friend is sad that he is stuck in a frustrating job and always talks about opening his restaurant, then sad friend cooks a lot for Amalee's family during the course of the story, then sad friend wraps up the story by opening his own restaurant (and all the other friends have had some integral part in making it happen while showcasing their own unique talents). It felt . . . disconnected and full of a few too many threads, all of which resolved too neatly.

The dialogue was also frequently a bit unbelievable, though not glaringly so.

I wasn't particularly interested in what would become of anyone, either, so I wasn't very engaged as I read. It was just kind of an okay book that I didn't dislike but didn't enjoy very much either.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good story about realistic characters, July 2, 2007
By 
CookieBooky (www.CookieBooky.com) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Amalee (Paperback)
I found Amalee to be a sweet book about an endearing girl. Amalee's father is sick and since her mother left long ago, his friends take up the responsibility for helping him and caring for her. Amalee has always seen her father's friends as a bunch of misfits. As they band together and help her, this view of them changes.

I enjoyed the quirkiness of each character and their camaraderie. I also enjoyed Amalee's self talk. She found interesting ways of dealing with her problems at home and at school.

The one thing that I didn't really care for was how everything wrapped up neatly in one little package. But the clean writing, the interesting story and the lovable characters make up for this shortcoming.

I would not recommend this for a light-hearted story. The main story of her father's illness can be a bit tough and kids may need to talk about this.

I recommend this book to readers who like a story about real people. This is not a girl-y story just a story about a girl who - with help -works through big problems that come up in her life. Amalee is smart and kind-hearted. Even though she doesn't always make the best decisions, I feel that she means well and this makes her a good role model.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Amalee Amazing!!!!!!, April 29, 2006
By 
This review is from: Amalee (Hardcover)
I've just finished reading Amalee by Dar Williams. This book is possibly the best book I have ever read, unless I have read an absolutely mind-blowing story in my sleep that I don't remember reading. One thing I love about the book is the way that people change character the further in to the book you get. For instance Dr.Nurstrom changes from someone who is very pompous and strict to someone who ends up being quite different... Another example is Ms Severance who goes from disliking Amalee to having their own secret conversations during class that only them and the reader understands. Their language is almost all in metaphors. This brings me onto my next point. Until now I have never read a book with so many metaphors in it. This book is a brilliant example of how to solve problems at home and at school. It's funny, exciting, sad in places and generally EXCELLENT!!!!

Review written by Tabitha-Rose when she was 11
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5.0 out of 5 stars Finding the future that redeems, May 16, 2004
By 
leisaie "leisaie" (Southfield, Michigan) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Amalee (Hardcover)
In Dar's own words, it is only when adults stop growing that they can't reach young people. She shouldn't worry, because this book is full of lessons and insights for everyone, regardless of age. Amalee is funny and clever and touchingly true on so many levels.
At fifteen, I have grown up listening to Dar's music and I have always found out that one of her songs says exactly the right thing when I need it. Amalee is no different; it served as a welcome reminder of what my priorities should be. The protagonist so resembles me not very long ago at all, I was almost unnerved. Dar may be a sixth-grade girl at heart, or just remarkably good at understanding how people think and act.
Dar is just as talented a novelist as a singer/songwriter, and I look forward to future books from her.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Growing up with a non traditional family.., February 11, 2006
By 
Aimee Archambault "Aarcham" (Pine Barrens New Jersey USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Amalee (Hardcover)
This book was every bit as touching and moving as Dar's music. Amalee is an 11 year old girl who grows up with out her mother. When her father falls ill Amalee finds herself in the arms of a family(her fathers friends) not so traditional but just as strong, loving, and important as any blood relatives could be. This is an excelent book for growing up. Especialy for children who don't have a traditional family. Aunts and Uncles are friends of the parents and mom or dad are missing. Also just a good touching book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Sometimes Friends Make the Best Family, June 12, 2009
By 
T. Katz (Canyon Country, CA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Amalee (Paperback)
For any family unit far away from relatives or who has created their own patchwork family from dear friends ... this book is a gem of a find. So many households today do not have extended families built of aunts, uncles and cousins like those once-upon-a-time, therefore we often find it is the shoulders of beloved friends we lean, cry and rely on most. Amalee rings true of those precious "hand-made" families.
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Amalee
Amalee by Dar Williams (Paperback - April 1, 2006)
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