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The Ballad of Ami Miles

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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 arranges a marriage to a cold-eyed stranger, she realizes that her “destiny” as one of the few females capable of still bearing childr 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 arranges a marriage to 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.


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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 arranges a marriage to a cold-eyed stranger, she realizes that her “destiny” as one of the few females capable of still bearing childr 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 arranges a marriage to 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.

30 review for The Ballad of Ami Miles

  1. 4 out of 5

    Nenia ✨️ Socially Awkward Trash Panda ✨️ Campbell

    I love books about cults lol

  2. 4 out of 5

    Samantha Hastings

    A compelling, post-apocalyptic story where the emphasis is firmly on the heroine. Ami has been raised in a survival compound her whole life with the knowledge that it is her duty to have babies. When the world “broke” most woman had become in fertile. Ami’s mom was fertile which means she might be too. But when Papa Solomon brings an older stranger to impregnate Ami, she goes on the run... to find her mother. To find herself. Ami’s character development shines in this story as she sorts out the t A compelling, post-apocalyptic story where the emphasis is firmly on the heroine. Ami has been raised in a survival compound her whole life with the knowledge that it is her duty to have babies. When the world “broke” most woman had become in fertile. Ami’s mom was fertile which means she might be too. But when Papa Solomon brings an older stranger to impregnate Ami, she goes on the run... to find her mother. To find herself. Ami’s character development shines in this story as she sorts out the truth from the lies she’s been told. That interracial marriage isn’t wrong. That her feelings for another girl aren’t unnatural. And that it’s her choice when and if she wants children.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Shannon (It Starts At Midnight)

    You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight 3.5* I love cult books. I love post-apocalyptic books. So how do you improve upon these already fabulous genres? Why, mash 'em together, of course! And I shall now tell you exactly what worked for me in this book, and then what kind of didn't as much. What I Enjoyed: I was rooting for Ami from the start. How could I not? We open the story with her about to be married off to some old man You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight 3.5* I love cult books. I love post-apocalyptic books. So how do you improve upon these already fabulous genres? Why, mash 'em together, of course! And I shall now tell you exactly what worked for me in this book, and then what kind of didn't as much. What I Enjoyed: I was rooting for Ami from the start. How could I not? We open the story with her about to be married off to some old man, a literal stranger who just happened to wander into the family cult. Hard pass. And at first, Ami tries to be okay with it, even though she is clearly not. Luckily, not all of her family wants her to become a baby factory, so she's able to get out of dodge.  Which leads to the next thing I enjoyed... Ami had to survive and make her way to a place she hoped her mother would be. I also quite love a survival story, and while this wasn't the whole premise of the book or anything, I did enjoy that we got a bit of it. It was extra intense because Ami had to keep looking over her shoulder (literally, often) to ensure she wasn't being followed by disgusting men trying to impregnate her. I really enjoyed Ami learning how to navigate friendships and romantic relationships and familial relationships. Ami has never met people before, basically. Certainly not peers- she was told that none existed, for the most part. So to learn how to coexist with people outside her small family cohort was a big change. And, Ami had to navigate how she felt about the family she grew up with, now that she was more aware of the lies she'd been fed her whole life. Fascinating stuff, really.  The overall messages of the book were really positive. I loved that the main focus was, ultimately, inclusion. Ami learned so much, but she also taught people stuff too. There's frank discussion about racial discrimination, homophobia, sexism, and religion, and I found them to be handled well. What I Wanted More Of: World Building! I loved the concept of the world. Clearly, there was a big disaster of some sort that lead to a population decimation and reproductive complications. And I wish I had known more about that! And, more about what the world looked like beyond Ami's small corner of the world. Obviously I understand that the story was limited to Ami's knowledge, but I am a curious sort and I cannot help my need to know! Perhaps a bit more... difficulty? I think this probably ties into the length of the book, and I was thrilled that the story was resolved as a standalone, but there were a few moments that I thought could be better served with a bit more tension or struggle. Bottom Line:  A young woman figuring out who she is and finding her agency all while realizing that everything she thought she knew was a lie.

  4. 4 out of 5

    ☼ Sarah ☼

    The Ballad of Ami Miles is a coming-of-age dystopian story with echoes of The Handmaid's Tale. In a post-apocalyptic setting where many have been rendered infertile, sixteen-year-old Ami has been raised by her religious grandparents at the family compound, Heavenly Shepherd, with the expectation that she'll one day have a baby to keep the line going. When a man old enough to be her father turns up and she's told that she has to breed with him, she must make a choice: stay and live a life that wi The Ballad of Ami Miles is a coming-of-age dystopian story with echoes of The Handmaid's Tale. In a post-apocalyptic setting where many have been rendered infertile, sixteen-year-old Ami has been raised by her religious grandparents at the family compound, Heavenly Shepherd, with the expectation that she'll one day have a baby to keep the line going. When a man old enough to be her father turns up and she's told that she has to breed with him, she must make a choice: stay and live a life that will never be her own, or flee into the unknown to look for her missing mother. While I was raised non-religious (and later found religion all on my own), I know quite a few women who were brought up in very conservative religious families, who later had to 'learn' that parts of them, like their sexualities, or certain moral things, were actually okay. We see this happening in Ami Miles. Her grandfather's warped religious teachings are repeatedly questioned throughout the story, and she's given the opportunity to decide what she believes. This could be an inspiring read for a teenager still in one of those home situations, showing them that it's possible to break free and forge your own path. I think, however, this story ought to have been longer and more detailed. It doesn't take long (maybe a week?) for Ami to adapt to life outside of Heavenly Shepherd, even though she's been slam-dunked into a vastly different world; I'd have liked to see her struggle a little more with deprogramming and processing, just for realism and to make it all the more triumphant when she realised that she could be herself. Likewise, the ending wrapped up very quickly, leaving me feeling somewhat unsatisfied! 🌻 Overall, an abrupt ending and lacking detail made The Ballad of Ami Miles perhaps not the story for me, but ideal for a younger reader given the coming-of-age themes and heartfelt discussions of race, sexuality, and the paths we take in life. 🌻

  5. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    I really enjoyed the opening of The Ballad of Ami Miles, but plotwise it really goes downhill from there. The story's already short, but so much of it is just characters recapping things to other characters and I honestly felt like I was reading a draft for the first act of a story instead of a fully contained novel. The premise was really interest and Kristy Dallas Alley is definitely a good writer, but this was ultimately a bit of a let down. I really enjoyed the opening of The Ballad of Ami Miles, but plotwise it really goes downhill from there. The story's already short, but so much of it is just characters recapping things to other characters and I honestly felt like I was reading a draft for the first act of a story instead of a fully contained novel. The premise was really interest and Kristy Dallas Alley is definitely a good writer, but this was ultimately a bit of a let down.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    I wish I could’ve read this book when I was a teenager. I wonder how different my life might have been. A beautiful story that will make life a little better for young people finding their way in this very confusing world. Thank you for telling this story.

  7. 4 out of 5

    B.R. Myers

    Part coming of age story, this YA dystopian tale is told through an authentic voice that’s as gritty and compelling as the main character herself. After escaping her family compound to avoid an arranged marriage to an older man, seventeen-year-old Ami desperately searches for a sanctuary and her long lost mother. Well versed in survival skills Ami manages to find safety only to discover that the world she knew was based on lies. With revelations that will keep the reader turning pages, the unexp Part coming of age story, this YA dystopian tale is told through an authentic voice that’s as gritty and compelling as the main character herself. After escaping her family compound to avoid an arranged marriage to an older man, seventeen-year-old Ami desperately searches for a sanctuary and her long lost mother. Well versed in survival skills Ami manages to find safety only to discover that the world she knew was based on lies. With revelations that will keep the reader turning pages, the unexpected romance provides the perfect balance to the harshness of the dystopian reality. THE BALLAD OF AMI MILES by Kristy Dallas Alley examines the complicated notion of what family really means and how even in the bleakest of circumstances there is still a chance for love

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lu

    I received this book from NetGalley in exchange of an honest review. Thank you so much, Macmillan Children's Publishing Group and Swoon Reads, for the chance to read and review it. TW: racism, homophobia, bigotism Ami is a young girl who was raised in isolation with her family at Heavenly Sheperd, her family's trailer-dealership that became a survival compound. Safe and cared for, her life changes when her grandfather brings home a stranger and makes clear her "destiny" as one of the few female st I received this book from NetGalley in exchange of an honest review. Thank you so much, Macmillan Children's Publishing Group and Swoon Reads, for the chance to read and review it. TW: racism, homophobia, bigotism Ami is a young girl who was raised in isolation with her family at Heavenly Sheperd, her family's trailer-dealership that became a survival compound. Safe and cared for, her life changes when her grandfather brings home a stranger and makes clear her "destiny" as one of the few female still able to bear children is to be with him. Ami isn't ready to be a wife and mother and with the help of one of her aunts she escapes, trying to find her long-lost mother, in a long journey that will bring her to question everything she ever knew. The ballad of Ami Miles is a book about self-discovery and I really liked reading it. Ami is a young girl and her whole world was the compound and everything she knew was through her grandparents' lessons, through the Bible. How to be a good girl, what her "duty" and "destiny" was, the difference of roles between male and female, how female should act and dress, when to speak and how and so on. Set in an almost apocalyptic world, where a sickness made almost every woman barren, Amy could be one of the last able to bear children and so, according to her family, it's her duty to God. But Ami can't do it, she's not an animal to be bred, so she runs and her journey to find her mother, who left her when she was a baby, is journey that will open her eyes about the reality and herself, making her question beliefs and everything she thought was true, only because her family said so. The story is intense, the prose fluid and Ami is a captivating main character, strong, stubborn and determined, willing to learn new things, to grow and face the truth. Because she was so sheltered she is naive and surprised of things other people consider normal and sometimes it was hilarious. Maybe the way she was able to question and discard a lifelong set of ideas in a just few days was a bit unlikely (since her mother wasn't absolutely able in years), but apart from this, I really liked this book. I loved reading how Ami adapts hersef in this new community, how she grows and changes and finds her place in the world. There are many themes in The ballad of Ami Miles, like racism, homophobia, bigotism. The way the women were treated in Heavenly Sheltered isn't so far-fetched and unfortunately I could see a world where things like that could happen. I really liked the queer relationship, even though I found it a bit too rushed, but it's lovely and the way Ami was able to find her place with family and friends was beautiful and intense. Overall, this a 4.5 stars book and I definitely recommend it to those who are looking for a dystopian, queer and apocalyptic book.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Amber

    Overall, although it was bit shorter than I would have liked, this dystopian cult story is truly interesting. Spoiler-free Review: https://amberinoface.wordpress.com/20... I received an ecopy of this book via Netgalley; however, my opinions are my own. Overall, although it was bit shorter than I would have liked, this dystopian cult story is truly interesting. Spoiler-free Review: https://amberinoface.wordpress.com/20... I received an ecopy of this book via Netgalley; however, my opinions are my own.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

    Thank you to Macmillan Children's Publishing Group for a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own. First and foremost, I loved this book! This is definitely one of my top 10 reads of 2020. Ami is an innocent 16 year old girl who has grown up in a very isolated place. After "the change" most women became unable to have children, so when Ami was born she was considered a blessing. Now that she is of child bearing age her Thank you to Macmillan Children's Publishing Group for a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own. First and foremost, I loved this book! This is definitely one of my top 10 reads of 2020. Ami is an innocent 16 year old girl who has grown up in a very isolated place. After "the change" most women became unable to have children, so when Ami was born she was considered a blessing. Now that she is of child bearing age her grandfather tries to arrange a marriage between Ami and an older stranger. Not wanting to get married and start having babies, Ami runs away in search for her long-lost mother. If Ami finds her she will have to decide if leaving was worth it, or should she return home to beg her grandfather's forgiveness. I absolutely adored Ami. I think the author did an amazing job of showing her vulnerability, fear and bravery. You can feel Ami's emotions throughout the story. She learns and grows so much throughout the book and it's reflected in her character. The story was paced perfectly and the flow was just wonderful. This is an absolutely beautiful piece of work. I recommend this book to everyone. I can't wait to read more by this author. I'm officially a fan!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sammy

    I didn't have a lot of expectations, going into this book, but it was still completely different from what I imagined. Opening up with the history of Heavenly Shepherd, an outpost and colony of people who fled during the government breakdown, these people reverted back to historic and bigoted practices: racism, sexism, homophobia, and general isolation. What I didn't expect though, was the fact that Ami was meant to be breed like an animal.  This book is only 262 or so pages long and yet so much I didn't have a lot of expectations, going into this book, but it was still completely different from what I imagined. Opening up with the history of Heavenly Shepherd, an outpost and colony of people who fled during the government breakdown, these people reverted back to historic and bigoted practices: racism, sexism, homophobia, and general isolation. What I didn't expect though, was the fact that Ami was meant to be breed like an animal.  This book is only 262 or so pages long and yet so much happens in this story. Ami runs away from home, getting away from the family who mean to make her a baby making machine. She is given information on where her mother might be and goes after her, ending up at Lake Point - a resort getaway turned encampment which is like it's own town. She traverses through woods, escapes her family, and ends up in an entirely new world. There were a lot of things I really liked about this book and I kind of wished it was longer. I wanted to see more drama between Ami and Papa or an attempt to get her back as she scrambled to get to Lake Point. But besides avoiding people and trying not to starve, the journey seemed easy.  Then we have Lake Point, where Ami meets kids her own age. And meets a girl that she might like. Which is wild for her, since she has grown up with the expectation that she is going to marry a man and have his babies. To serve him. Now, she has friends and a crush on a girl. We talk a lot about the differences between Heavenly Shepherd and Lake Point, but I really wanted the author to go into Ami's transformation more. We see her thoughts and feelings towards certain things start to change, but surprisingly, Ami is very quick to let herself go with the flow and change her opinions.  Honestly, I really liked this book and I think I just wanted more of it. As it is now, it's great. But with more in depth explanations or prolonged anguish, like trying to escape, questioning her sexuality, and really diving into the root of Ami's racist upbringing, I think this book would have been longer and possibly even better. Overall, I liked this story. I loved the discussion of sexism, racism, and homophobia that this book touches on. I think Kristy did it in a way that is very open, honest, and considerate. Though there are some moments where language needed to be considered and could have been changed. But, generally, a good story with a lot of in depth discussions going on. A solid 4 // 5 stars for me!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    Many thanks to EdelweissPlus and the publisher for providing me with a DRC of this title for review. All opinions are my own. When I was about 25% done with this book, I was ready to give it a solid shoulder-shrugging "meh" as a review. I went into it expecting a dystopian story with a side of cult psychology and some feminism, and that wasn't exactly what I got. BUT, I found myself unable to look away from Ami and her story of self-discovery. Because, in the end, this was a coming of age story. Many thanks to EdelweissPlus and the publisher for providing me with a DRC of this title for review. All opinions are my own. When I was about 25% done with this book, I was ready to give it a solid shoulder-shrugging "meh" as a review. I went into it expecting a dystopian story with a side of cult psychology and some feminism, and that wasn't exactly what I got. BUT, I found myself unable to look away from Ami and her story of self-discovery. Because, in the end, this was a coming of age story. Yes, it did have a vaguely "cultish" setting in the beginning, and a dystopian storyline about women becoming sterile, but overall, the story was about Ami becoming who she was always meant to be. Overall, this is a second purchase type of book. It will do well in larger collections, but it will be a hard sell for some people. It doesn't fit nicely into any one genre or niche, which means that some readers will end up disappointed. Recommended for grades 8 and up.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Brandy {The Review Booth}

    I could see The Ballad of Ami Miles coming to fruition in some aspects. You hear more and more about infertility as well as couples deciding not to have any children. The attitude surrounding women and their roles that we see at Heavenly Shepherd is unfortunately nothing new. I wouldn’t be surprised at something like it cropping up if something like the Break happened in the near future. Heavenly Shepherd is a terrifying example of a mentality that could take root in isolation and societal colla I could see The Ballad of Ami Miles coming to fruition in some aspects. You hear more and more about infertility as well as couples deciding not to have any children. The attitude surrounding women and their roles that we see at Heavenly Shepherd is unfortunately nothing new. I wouldn’t be surprised at something like it cropping up if something like the Break happened in the near future. Heavenly Shepherd is a terrifying example of a mentality that could take root in isolation and societal collapse. It is a little difficult imagining Ami adjusting to all the new changes in her life in barely over a week. However, sometimes all it takes is just one example of how you were raised being called into question to uproot other significant ideals instilled at a young age. I found Ami delightful, even if she was exceedingly sheltered and naïve – her situation and the result of it is not something that she could have prevented herself. Ami’s journey to find the mother she has never met is a beautiful one where she learns she is so much more than her origin. In addition to young adult and LGBTQ+, I would also consider this a coming of age and dystopian. It isn’t so far off from our current time that it feels completely alien and doesn’t feature fantasy or sci-fi elements. If the book description sounds interesting to you, I must tell you that this book is so much MORE than that – I highly recommend checking this one out. It tackles some tough subjects not limited to abandonment, sexuality, religion, and racism. The Ballad of Ami Miles completely surprised me, and I would like to thank Xpresso Book Tours and Kristy Dallas Alley for the opportunity to read it. *Rounded from 4.5 stars*

  14. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    #readathon Really surprising. I couldn't stop reading about Ami! Her story shows just how easy it is for kids to share the beliefs of those who raise them and what can happen once those kids step out into the real world. It's a coming-of-age story set in a post-apocalypse future where most women have gone sterile and having babies has become women's most important job but Ami's not sure that's what she wants. Ami's been raised on a compound (with cult-like qualities) founded by her great-great-gra #readathon Really surprising. I couldn't stop reading about Ami! Her story shows just how easy it is for kids to share the beliefs of those who raise them and what can happen once those kids step out into the real world. It's a coming-of-age story set in a post-apocalypse future where most women have gone sterile and having babies has become women's most important job but Ami's not sure that's what she wants. Ami's been raised on a compound (with cult-like qualities) founded by her great-great-grandfather by her grandparents after being left by her mother, for reasons explained in the book. When she turns 16 and her grandparents bring a man to the compound basically to breed her, she runs away with the help of her aunt. And what follows is Ami's realization that the world outside her compound might be a little different than her extremely religious, racist, misogynist grandfather might have raised her to believe. It seems like this would be a very dark book but it actually turned out to be a sort of light introduction to the post-apocalyptic/dystopian book genre. There are references to breeding and mating but no actual descriptions were given nor acts on the page (aside from some consensual kissing). And as someone who has read some very dark post-apocalyptic worlds, I kept waiting for it to take a dark turn or for people to turn on Ami or bad situations to happen, but it really does just focus on Ami learning about who she is and what she wants, the world she now lives in and her hopes for a future that might be different than what she was raised to believe in. And it turns out to be a very hopeful story with moments of sadness and heartbreak but an overall feeling of being true to yourself and finding love and happiness even when times are tough. I thought it was really well done and I think a lot of young people will enjoy this book. CW: mentions of racism, suicide, depression, stillborn babies, death during delivery, abandonment, religion, breeding, homophobia

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kaitlin

    Okay, so normally I save one-star reviews for books I hated, or books I hated so much that I didn't finish them. I did finish this one, and I wouldn't go so far as to say that I hated it. But it just...wasn't a complete book. This read like the first draft of a better book. "The Ballad of Ami Miles" follows a girl, Ami Miles, (shocker, I know) on a journey from what could ostensibly be called a cult to a healthier life situation. In this book, the world has undergone some kind of plague that make Okay, so normally I save one-star reviews for books I hated, or books I hated so much that I didn't finish them. I did finish this one, and I wouldn't go so far as to say that I hated it. But it just...wasn't a complete book. This read like the first draft of a better book. "The Ballad of Ami Miles" follows a girl, Ami Miles, (shocker, I know) on a journey from what could ostensibly be called a cult to a healthier life situation. In this book, the world has undergone some kind of plague that makes it so a lot of women can't have babies. (Blessed be the fruit of Maggie Atwood.) This has led, extremely vaguely, to the downfall of society. Ami lives on a seculded compound in Alabama with some aunts and uncles and her grandparents--her grandfather runs the compound, and his word is law. And Grandpa says that it's time for the sixteen-year-old Ami to breed with some random old dude from down the lane. So her aunts and uncles help Ami escape to find her long-lost mother. Okay, I admit, the premise is medium-compelling. I don't think I realized we were in a Handmaid's-Tale-Lite situation, but I'm always here for a cult book. Except that "cult" would be a really strong word for this compound: It's basically just a family with a very strict patriarch who relies heavily on his idea of god to run the place. The difference sounds subtle, but it's very obvious on the page. It's less "cult" and more "conservative household with overbearing dad." Anywho, Ami goes west to find her mom, who's staying at an old resort/compound of other people--much bigger than her old one, and much happier. And this is where my problems with this book really begin. For one, despite the anti-baby plague, there are a lot of kids and people are pregnant enough for the place to have a dedicated midwife--that doesn't track. In fact, the anti-baby-plague becomes essentially a non-factor once Ami makes it away from her would-be rapist. For two, Ami has been taught by her reportedly-ever-imposing grandfather that "the mixing of the races" was wrong, and she's never even heard of gay people. The idea of people coming together without the ability to procreate is totally foreign to her. However, when she is introduced to gay and interracial couples...nothing really happens? She doesn't really have a reaction. She just kind of thinks to herself, "Oh, well. It seems fine. Grandpa must've been wrong about that." Can you even play the "she was indoctrinated" card when the supposed indoctrination can be undone in a paragraph's worth of thought? And, of course, Ami falls in love with a black girl, just to make sure that everyone got the moral that interracial and gay relationships are fine. No self-hatred, no internalized homophobia, none of that stuff that actually happens when someone from a deeply religious life starts to realize they're gay. Ami just basically shrugs and moves on. The above goes to prove my real issue with this book: There's no conflict. None, things just sort of happen, and happen in the easiest way possible. Ami makes a mistake with her lady-love...who doesn't seem to even have had her feelings hurt by it. Ami just learns that all the stuff she was taught, her whole life, is wrong--there's no pushback from her. She and her mother have a fight--and immediately make up, like within five pages. Right at the end, I really thought we were going to hash some stuff out...nope. Alley completely swerved and chose not to engage with any conflict that might have proven difficult to navigate or that might have sullied her crystal-clear messaging that, yes, the things that all but the most backwater people think are okay are, in fact, okay. I think we all know that there are two types of "young adult" books. There's the kind that are actually written for young adults--the 13-17 range. And then there are the ones that are really written for adults who read young adult. I would say this difference is usually found in a mix of complexity level and tone. It's very intangible. It's like good art, or obscenity--you know it when you see it. I'm tempted to just file "The Ballad of Ami Miles" away as part of the former category of "for actual young adults" and declare myself too old for its morality tale. But I honestly think this book is so lacking in complexity (and really, lacking in the basic concepts of plot and character development--you can't have either without conflict, just saying) that it feels like an insult to true young adults to say that this is for them. I think it would talk down to teenagers in exactly the way that it talked down to me. This book may have had something, if it had teeth--if the "cult" were more insidious, if Ami had been truly indoctrinated, if she'd had to confront herself or her mother or her grandfather or her sexuality honestly. But she didn't. This book just coasted to the easiest possible conclusions--the literary equivalent of a lazy river. Like I said at the start, it's hard to say that I hate this book. It's like hating flour. You can't hate flour--unless you've got celiac, I guess. But it's also not really "food." Similarly, I have a hard time calling this a "book." It's more of a draft--I can criticize a draft, but it's hard to outright hate it. Even after paying good money for it, that I wish I could get back.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Candyce Kirk

    The Ballad of Ami Miles is the first dystopian book I’ve read in quite some time. Kristy Dallas Alley has created a post-apocalyptic world that could easily be our future (or so it feels that way with how it’s described). The author had me completely sucked into this world and I just had to know how everything would play out! In this book the story basically revolves around our main character, Ami, and her journey into the world she didn’t knew existed. It’s also been awhile since I’ve read such The Ballad of Ami Miles is the first dystopian book I’ve read in quite some time. Kristy Dallas Alley has created a post-apocalyptic world that could easily be our future (or so it feels that way with how it’s described). The author had me completely sucked into this world and I just had to know how everything would play out! In this book the story basically revolves around our main character, Ami, and her journey into the world she didn’t knew existed. It’s also been awhile since I’ve read such a character driven book and it was so refreshing. I felt I really got to know the main character and it felt like I was with her and along for the ride. Ami only knows the compound she grew up in. Her grandparents have raised her and she’s known it’s her duty to have a child in a world where most women aren’t able to. Because that’s what happened when the world started having problems. Women weren’t able to get pregnant anymore and the few that could were watched by the government, so they would continue to do so. Seeing how Ami’s mother was able to have her, her family thinks she may be able to as well. Knowing this doesn’t make it any easier for Ami when a man shows up and she knows she’ll have to be with this man. When she’s told her mother may still be alive and that her aunts don’t believe this should be her future, they help her flee. This is definitely part of the story I won’t forget. Part of her family wanting more for her and her taking that risk. I can’t imagine how scary that was. Leaving the only place you’ve never known and going out into a world that sounds pretty scary and not even knowing how many people are still around. Ami’s journey was so interesting and emotional. All the little things she discovers along the way. Actually seeing people her age for the first time or the mention of babies. When it turns out the world may not be as she was once told, Ami’s whole world is turned upside down. Even though this is really hard for Ami it also takes so much strength to deal with everything. I don’t know if I would’ve been so brave. The Ballad of Ami Miles was a pleasant surprise and if you enjoy dystopian books, this is definitely one I recommend. The author wrote this book in a way that I didn’t want to stop reading and I actually had to cut back my selection of favorite quotes, because a lot jumped out to me while reading. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for more books by this author.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Vanessia

    Ami has grown up on her family's trailer dealership turned compound after the world fell apart. She knows she is one of the lucky ones. She has grown up safe, with enough food in her belly and her family around her. That is until the day the man appeared, the man her grandparent's intended to pair with her with, because Ami might be one of the few fertile woman left in the world. Realizes this isn't something she is ready to face Ami runs away with the help one of her aunts. She hopes to find no Ami has grown up on her family's trailer dealership turned compound after the world fell apart. She knows she is one of the lucky ones. She has grown up safe, with enough food in her belly and her family around her. That is until the day the man appeared, the man her grandparent's intended to pair with her with, because Ami might be one of the few fertile woman left in the world. Realizes this isn't something she is ready to face Ami runs away with the help one of her aunts. She hopes to find not only her long last mother, but hopefully a husband of her choice as well. But journey away from her family's home leads her to learn and find so much more. Kristy Dallas Alley builds such a realistic world that is easily pictured when telling this story. You can picture the world we live in now that has fallen apart, still exists but had died and left to rot as the human population died off. It makes you understand how hard survival is outside of encampments would be, things wouldn't be easy to do on your own, information would be limited, and nothing would be easy. Not only is the world well built but Kristy Dallas Alley's character are beautiful. You can feel the confusion and excitement in Ami as she moves through her journey. She has only seen one thing her whole life, her families compound. So when she leaves it is a lot to take in to see anything different or to be told anything different than the religious redirect her family believed. While I loved Ami's character, the side characters were amazing as well, you could see and feel their struggles. They were all fairly well developed and for a shortish story that is quite impressive. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys dystopian stories, or stories that involve cults. It is a quick read I read it all in one day always excited to find out more about Ami's thoughts and feelings. Thank you to TBR and the publishers for my eARC all opinions and thoughts are my own.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Bridget Waters

    If anyone has seen or read anything about cults, IE: Escaping Polygamy, Jeff Warrens, FLDS, etc, it’s clear that’s the type of place we are talking about. It doesn’t seem to be on that large of a scale but the same idea was still there. (I don’t see any signs of polygamy it is clearly a cult none the less). Ami is 16 years old and what seemed very suddenly to her, a stranger named Zeke came to the compound. She put two and two together and seen that they expected her to do “God’s Will” and have If anyone has seen or read anything about cults, IE: Escaping Polygamy, Jeff Warrens, FLDS, etc, it’s clear that’s the type of place we are talking about. It doesn’t seem to be on that large of a scale but the same idea was still there. (I don’t see any signs of polygamy it is clearly a cult none the less). Ami is 16 years old and what seemed very suddenly to her, a stranger named Zeke came to the compound. She put two and two together and seen that they expected her to do “God’s Will” and have a child with this man who was a complete stranger. Some of Ami’s family has an idea of where her mother is, they don’t want this life for her either so they help her leave. Ami has to learn to interact with different types of people, the difference between what she was taught on the compound and how people on the outside really live. This is a story about finding out what you believe and how you feel. Not to take what others say for face value and to learn on your own. This is a coming of age and I would recommend it to anyone. Amazing story.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Rita

    This debut novel by (my friend!) Kristy Dallas Alley covers a lot of ground, all told in that lyrical, soft southern voice that eases you through the story like a song. I read an earlier version of the book when she first put it up on Swoon and it was a joy to see how it evolved into this.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    This strong, compelling heroine questions her beliefs without fundamentally changing who she is as a person. A beautifully written coming of age story.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jennybeast

    I have a soft spot for post-apocalyptic novels that center everyday life, so I liked this one. It's not a revolutionary book. It's not full of a huge amount of fast paced adventure. It's about a girl who leaves her fundamentalist childhood and discovers that things were not as she had been told. Not revolutionary, but quite satisfying. Particularly like the positive LGBTQ message, and the fairly utopian lake community. Advanced reader's copy provided by Edelweiss. I have a soft spot for post-apocalyptic novels that center everyday life, so I liked this one. It's not a revolutionary book. It's not full of a huge amount of fast paced adventure. It's about a girl who leaves her fundamentalist childhood and discovers that things were not as she had been told. Not revolutionary, but quite satisfying. Particularly like the positive LGBTQ message, and the fairly utopian lake community. Advanced reader's copy provided by Edelweiss.

  22. 5 out of 5

    (Belleand_books) Isabella Valentine

    Thank you to NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Ami grows up in a compound following some type of end times in which women are very lucky to have children. We start with Ami coming in from the woods and finding some man in front of her house with whom she is supposed to “breed” with. Ami’s aunts and uncles then manage to get her out of that compound and send her to her mother. Her mother is five days away living in this safe haven of shorts and Ami’s life is torn apart when Thank you to NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Ami grows up in a compound following some type of end times in which women are very lucky to have children. We start with Ami coming in from the woods and finding some man in front of her house with whom she is supposed to “breed” with. Ami’s aunts and uncles then manage to get her out of that compound and send her to her mother. Her mother is five days away living in this safe haven of shorts and Ami’s life is torn apart when she learns everything that she knew is not necessarily true. She has to come to terms with her own feelings about another girl and her feelings about the situation with her mother. It’s honestly not a bad story- it’s a little slow in the beginning but it picks up and it’s pretty nice to figure out what the truth is...or isn’t. That being said, the ending is very rushed and I feel like I still don’t really know anything about what actually happened before. Also I feel like, despite the fact that Ami’s entire life is shattered, she’s fairly unaffected by it and even goes back to the compound to confront her grandparents. This story needed to be slightly longer so that Ami could actually deal and not just brush everything off. Also, why the insta-love?? That also would have benefited from a longer story.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Mandi Murphy

    Content: profanity, mature themes, non graphic sexual situations 14+ A fresh new approach to post apocalyptic lit in my experience. The story deals with A LOT of difficult themes, and I think it handles them well. I wasn't really satisfied after having finished the book, though. I lacked a real connection with the story or characters. The first third of the book really drew my in, but after that it kind of lost me. Low three stars for this one. Content: profanity, mature themes, non graphic sexual situations 14+ A fresh new approach to post apocalyptic lit in my experience. The story deals with A LOT of difficult themes, and I think it handles them well. I wasn't really satisfied after having finished the book, though. I lacked a real connection with the story or characters. The first third of the book really drew my in, but after that it kind of lost me. Low three stars for this one.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kayla

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. ***THERE ARE SPOILERS**** YOU WERE WARNED**** The Breakdown: Cover Art: 5/10 Initial Grab: 6/10 Characters: 7.5/10 Setting: 6.5/10 Content: 8/10 Readability Factor: 6/10 Overall: 6.5/10 Likely to Recommend: 5/10 Okay, first things first, this book deals with a cult and this really, in my opinion, super sweet, brainwashed young adult having to make sense of everything. She was told her whole life that her mother had to be on the run, one of many lies told to her. The turning point for her in the novel, is ***THERE ARE SPOILERS**** YOU WERE WARNED**** The Breakdown: Cover Art: 5/10 Initial Grab: 6/10 Characters: 7.5/10 Setting: 6.5/10 Content: 8/10 Readability Factor: 6/10 Overall: 6.5/10 Likely to Recommend: 5/10 Okay, first things first, this book deals with a cult and this really, in my opinion, super sweet, brainwashed young adult having to make sense of everything. She was told her whole life that her mother had to be on the run, one of many lies told to her. The turning point for her in the novel, is in the very beginning, when her cult-like father and family are getting her ready to essentially be bred to a complete stranger and part of her family assists her with escaping. She finds a place that her mother has been living and it's really Ami Miles journey in discovering herself and her past and the truth. She finds love along the way (LGBTQ+). Overall, it wasn't a bad read. I like creepy stories and am overall glad I read this one, but this particular one wasn't my cup of tea. I read it fairly quickly but it was hard to keep my focus and read this whenever I was on break at work. I didn't devour this book, but I do think it is work the read.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Joni Thomas

    This book almost reminds me of The Forest of Hands and Teeth- minus the zombies. I really felt invested in the story of Ami and cared about her story. She was very naive but that was expected due to how she was raised. The book is about her growing up in a cult and escaping and breaking free after her grandfather arranges a marriage for her with a man old enough to be her father. Ami leaves and goes in search of her mother who left the family when Ami was a baby. She finds much more than she knew This book almost reminds me of The Forest of Hands and Teeth- minus the zombies. I really felt invested in the story of Ami and cared about her story. She was very naive but that was expected due to how she was raised. The book is about her growing up in a cult and escaping and breaking free after her grandfather arranges a marriage for her with a man old enough to be her father. Ami leaves and goes in search of her mother who left the family when Ami was a baby. She finds much more than she knew she was looking for and I loved seeing how Ami developed and grew throughout the course of the story. This is easy to read in one sitting and I finished it in one day. Definitely recommend.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Liralen

    Apocalypse cults and religion, oh my! This one’s a bit different from a lot of doomsday-religion books in that the apocalypse (so to speak) has happened—Ami’s family has gone off the grid, to be sure, but then…the entire grid has gone off the grid. Something has affected women’s reproductive capabilities to the extent that, over the decades, humanity has become a shadow of its former self. A few women can still reproduce…and in the hopes that she might be one of them, Ami’s family has found her Apocalypse cults and religion, oh my! This one’s a bit different from a lot of doomsday-religion books in that the apocalypse (so to speak) has happened—Ami’s family has gone off the grid, to be sure, but then…the entire grid has gone off the grid. Something has affected women’s reproductive capabilities to the extent that, over the decades, humanity has become a shadow of its former self. A few women can still reproduce…and in the hopes that she might be one of them, Ami’s family has found her a husband. Although she’s never questioned her upbringing or her family’s beliefs, Ami takes the first opportunity she gets to run: to seek out her mother, who, according to new information, is only a few miles away. And the world Ami finds outside forces her to question everything she’d held to be true. Conceptually I liked this, but in practice, my god, everything moves so fast. Ami gets off her compound and to a bigger compound with non-religious people (it’s never clear how much of the world has survived, or what it looks like beyond their small bubbles—who else is out there? We don’t know), and they immediately set about changing her mind about everything. They’re a liberal haven, even by current (real-world, non-dystopia) standards: peaceful, organic living in which everyone collaborates, and everyone is actively anti-racist and anti-homophobic and so on and so forth. And that’s great! But…I had a very hard time believing that Ami, who has never had the slightest conception that homosexuality even exists, would leap straight from an extremely cloistered, conservative, religious upbringing in which it was understood that the biggest thing she could ever do was marry a man and make babies to ‘ohhhh now I understand that I feel this way about a girl, and here’s the one for me!’ in about…two days? Like, there’s literally another teenager who’s supposed to be the Big Cheese of the teenagers who goes on a little walk with Ami, tells her about homosexuality, and then barely utters a peep for the rest of the book. It’s like that with other things, too: Ami’s been told her whole life that the mixing of races is bad (and that, presumably, white people are superior), but as soon as someone explains otherwise, she goes ‘oh, I guess my family’s way of thinking is racist and wrong’ and changes her worldview. I suspect that the author didn’t want to let Ami be entrenched in racism for long because that would make her an unsympathetic character, and sure, I get that. But…I don’t buy it. Sure, it takes her a minute, but that’s only relative to, e.g., how quickly she gets used to the idea that she might be gay. My preference (as, to be fair, someone who is very often grumble-grumble-there-is-too-much-romance-in-this-book) would have been to take out the romance altogether and give Ami more time and space to change her mind about things, maybe eventually realising at the end of the book that she might be more into girls than boys but not because of someone specific. I also don’t buy that even this hippie-go-liberal compound would (in a world that seems to have very few people left in it) be so staunchly pro-choice—not just when it comes to abortion but also when it comes to having, or trying to have, kids in the first place. They’re apparently surviving well enough, so I guess it’s working out for them, but I struggled to see how a community of about sixty people could sustain itself for generations if the majority of the women aren’t fertile and not all of those women are going to try to have children. (This isn’t an argument for all of them trying: it’s an argument for a much more complex discussion in the book.) Also, a small grumpy-reader note: The trip that took me five days to walk took only two going upriver on the boat (210) … We docked at the fishing camp… It took us two more days to walk inland to the hi-way, and then there it was, Heavenly Shepherd (213) … “We’ve been traveling for two days, and we need to rest,” I said (216). So it’s two days of travel or four? Another thing we’ll never know. Ultimately what I think I was missing is the bigger picture. There’s apparently still some government left? I guess? But what form it takes, or what the population is, or how spread out…no idea. No idea what’s going on in other countries. No idea if the population is still on a decline. No idea what other small communities are doing. No sense of external, or even really internal, threat. So many questions!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Dai Guerra

    Thoughts and Themes: There is so much that I could say about this book and how I read it at just the right moment. The interpretation of my religion and what I chose to follow from it will always be something that I disagree with my dad about. If I ever needed a message from above to let me know that I was okay in what I’m doing then this book was that for me. Books that feel like a welcome home or that help me heal in some way will always be something that I remember. It’s not steeped in religi Thoughts and Themes: There is so much that I could say about this book and how I read it at just the right moment. The interpretation of my religion and what I chose to follow from it will always be something that I disagree with my dad about. If I ever needed a message from above to let me know that I was okay in what I’m doing then this book was that for me. Books that feel like a welcome home or that help me heal in some way will always be something that I remember. It’s not steeped in religion or faith the way other religious books are but it serves as the foundation and the upbringing for Ami. I was really excited to read this book as I really enjoy dystopian books and was pleased to find that it was also LGBTQ+. I liked how this book mixed a lot of different themes together and liked how the plot played out. I liked how you didn’t really get to know immediately if what Ami went there for was waiting for her but you really got to see her figure out who she is. I liked that this was a science fiction coming of age story because I feel that I haven’t read many of those. I liked that this story was a reminder that history repeats itself as Ami is taught that interracial relationships are a sin, and that to be a worthy woman are supposed to produce children. I thought it was interesting to see that while the world around Ami had progressed her town hadn’t and they had gone backward in time. I thought that the revelations that happen throughout the story are really well written and enjoyed the moments that they happen in. I think that these moments are shocking to the reader because your reality is very much what Ami has told us. I really enjoy the old timey feel of this book and how it feels like you are going on an adventure with the main character. I think that the setting really added to making it feel like I was in the future with so many elements and rules of the past. I liked how this book was set in the future but it was as if society had taken several steps backwards. Something that I really enjoyed about it being set in the future is the scene in which they are talking about computers and record players as I thought it was a nice callback to our present times and the past. Characters: While there is one main character there are a lot of side characters that you meet throughout the book. I liked how this story takes the time to introduce you to Ami’s family before really getting into the story. I think that it is important that you know them and their role in her life so you understand where she is coming from. Once Ami leaves her home, she meets a lot more people in the area that her mom is supposed to be at. I really enjoyed her interactions with each of those characters and how vulnerable she is with one of them. I really liked how the relationship between Ami and Jessie develops and the way that Ami struggles through this all. I like how this book shows that this goes against everything that Ami has been taught and how multi-layered it is for her. Writing Style: This story is written in the first person from Ami’s perspective which I found to be great. I liked that we always know how Ami is feeling and what she is thinking but we don’t know the inner thoughts of anyone else. I liked that we didn’t know anything about anyone else besides Ami because it let you feel and discover things along with her.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Katie Steele

    Check out the original review and more on NovelKnight! This book was provided by the publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. Oh my, I didn't like this book. It's pretty rare that I don't have anything good to say about a book, and I don't like doing that, so while I type this review I'm going to try and find at least one good thing to say. But that might be hard, because I really didn't like The Ballad of Ami Miles. The first thing I noticed, afte Check out the original review and more on NovelKnight! This book was provided by the publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. Oh my, I didn't like this book. It's pretty rare that I don't have anything good to say about a book, and I don't like doing that, so while I type this review I'm going to try and find at least one good thing to say. But that might be hard, because I really didn't like The Ballad of Ami Miles. The first thing I noticed, after a few pages into Ami Miles, was the utter lack of world building. Okay, so it's obviously the US after some bad stuff happened and now it's all a bit of a wasteland. But give me more. I've read that story before, so many times! Give me something to make it unique, to force my mind to picture it vividly. Women can't have children anymore? Details! Things are worse outside of Ami's sanctuary? Show me how bad it is? This is the kind of detail I need in world building right away, or my brain shuts off and I get distracted. Nothing in this world stood out, made me want to keep reading to learn more. By the time I was a third of the way in it still hadn't gotten any better. And then there's Ami Miles, the titular heroine. I wanted to like her, I really did and I tried. But good grief, there was no voice. She was in a bad situation, had been brain washed her entire life, knew virtually nothing about the outside world she was being thrust out to. But reading her character, going through all of that, she was stiff as a board. There was no spark, nothing that made me root for her other than a general sense of, "Well, yeah, that situation sucks." And the "villains" were obviously the villains, trying to force some actually horrible things on Ami, but I never felt a sense of urgency. I was told they were bad, but never fully shown. It was frustrating to read. Ok, so, have I come up with anything good to say. Maybe the second half was better? I don't know, I didn't stick around to find out. I think if you're really missing dystopian, like really missing it, you could maybe like this one. It reminded me a little of the vibe I got from Chaos Walking, but I didn't think it was nearly the same quality. I say this for every book though, and The Ballad of Ami Miles is no exception: if the synopsis sounds good to you, give it a try. Where's the harm in that? For More Bookish Content: Blog || Twitter || Facebook || Bloglovin'

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lori L (She Treads Softly)

    The Ballad of Ami Miles by Kristy Dallas Alley is a recommended young adult novel that follows a teen girl on a quest to find her long-lost mother in a post-apocalyptic future. In this changed world, many women of child bearing years are unable to have children. Ami Miles mother met a traveler and was miraculously able to conceive her, but then her mother had to leave her after her birth to keep Ami safe. She has been raised by her grandparents at the family compound, Heavenly Shepherd. When Ami The Ballad of Ami Miles by Kristy Dallas Alley is a recommended young adult novel that follows a teen girl on a quest to find her long-lost mother in a post-apocalyptic future. In this changed world, many women of child bearing years are unable to have children. Ami Miles mother met a traveler and was miraculously able to conceive her, but then her mother had to leave her after her birth to keep Ami safe. She has been raised by her grandparents at the family compound, Heavenly Shepherd. When Ami is sixteen she returns from the woods to see an older stranger at the compound and it becomes clear that her grandparents expect her to submit to his affection and breed with her so she can carry on the family line. Luckily, her aunts and uncles know what is going on and have a plan in place to set her off on a journey to find her mother. They disagree with her grandfather's patriarchal control over everyone and want to save her. Ami follows a clue left by her mother. She was told to give it to Ami when she was ready to leave the compound and find her. This is the story of Ami's quest to find her mother and discover who she really is. This is a well written novel that is definitely YA and has a very simplistic plot that is in many ways allegorical. The bad guys are definitely bad and caricatures of a type and the good guys clearly good. The focus is on Ami's internal thoughts as she deals with a world that is not at all as her grandfather described. She learns about herself and others while being introduced to other points-of-view that challenge several controversial topics from her upbringing. She is introduced to the ideas of women's rights, sexual identity, racism, and self-determination. The story does leave you with several unanswered questions and unresolved issues, but likely the target audience won't notice this absence. Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Macmillan. http://www.shetreadssoftly.com/2020/0...

  30. 5 out of 5

    Monica

    Initial Thoughts I was excited to be chosen for this tour. I have been watching a ton of TV shows about cults lately and this dystopian setting seemed like it would really fit that theme. Some Things I Liked Ami’s story. I really enjoyed the way that the focal point of the story was on Ami herself and her journey of self discovery. There were excellent supporting characters but, the crux of the story was about Ami. Cult vibes. Heavenly Shepherd was most certainly a cult. They had extreme views, a hi Initial Thoughts I was excited to be chosen for this tour. I have been watching a ton of TV shows about cults lately and this dystopian setting seemed like it would really fit that theme. Some Things I Liked Ami’s story. I really enjoyed the way that the focal point of the story was on Ami herself and her journey of self discovery. There were excellent supporting characters but, the crux of the story was about Ami. Cult vibes. Heavenly Shepherd was most certainly a cult. They had extreme views, a hideous dress code, and various other rules that would seem insane to an outsider. I absolutely loved the way Ami discovered what Heavenly Shepherd was as well as her introduction to all of the things she was missing in the real world. One Thing I Wasn’t Crazy About The explanation of the infertility. I found myself confused at a point because was it just Ami’s family that had this problem? Ami obviously discovered people who didn’t seem quite so plagued with the issue so I couldn’t understand if she was simply lied to or if the problem wasn’t explained clearly enough for my understanding. Series Value Ami’s story feels complete. However, I think this world is interesting and I’d be eager to know more about it. I also really enjoyed Kristy Dallas Alley’s writing and would read her future novels. Final Thoughts I enjoyed this book. I didn’t realize how much I was missing a book like this until I read it. Ami’s story was different from anything I had read in a while and I loved that. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Recommendations for Further Reading Escaping Eleven by Jerri Chisholm – if you’re looking for a dystopian story where the societal structure is not all that it seems, try this new release. The Grace Year by Kim Liggitt – if you’re looking for those Handmaid’s Tale vibes, look no further than this 2019 release.

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