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Book Review

Meet Samantha, an American Girl by Susan S. Adler has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the first book in the “American Girl: Samantha” series.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Samantha, the granddaughter of a wealthy Virginia lady in 1904, asks Jessie, who is a seamstress, to fix Samantha's stockings after she fell out of a tree. Jessie tells Samantha stories about New Orleans while she works. Samantha notices several ants grouping around a cookie on the ground and counts the number of ants instead of picking up the cookie.

During their sewing hour, Samantha tells Grandmary about a beautiful doll she saw in a nearby toy store. When Samantha mentions her plan to work for the $6 needed to pay for the doll, Grandmary is startled and insists that ladies to not work—but if Samantha works hard on her sewing and piano, Grandmary will buy the doll for her.

They are interrupted by the arrival of Samantha’s Uncle Gard, who then takes Samantha for a ride in his new automobile. While she is gone, Jessie runs past Grandmary with pepper, explaining that there were hundreds of ants in her workroom.

Later that week, while Samantha is walking in her yard, she notices a girl in the Rylands’ yard hanging laundry and goes to talk to her. She learns the new girl, Nellie, has come to work for the Rylands because Nellie’s parents don’t earn enough money to provide food and coal for the whole family.

When Nellie admits that she’s never been to school, Samantha insists on talking to her again and telling her everything she knows. They become fast friends.

Days later, Jessie interrupts Samantha and Grandmary’s sewing to announce her resignation — startling news to Samantha, though Grandmary seems unfazed. Samantha asks the other servants of the house about why Jessie chose to leave. No one will tell her why Jessie is leaving. Samantha is saddened by Jessie leaving, but her spirits are lifted when she finds the doll she wanted waiting for her in her room.

Samantha takes the doll, which she names Lydia, to show to Nellie the next day. Nellie is very careful and reverent with the doll. Together the girls think of reasons why Jessie could have left, and eventually decide to find out for themselves. They meet at night after everyone has gone to bed and leave for Jessie's house.

As they get closer to Jessie’s house, Samantha notices the houses are smaller and the streets darker. Eventually they find the right house — Jessie had a baby and needed to stay home to take care of it since her husband worked. After a brief discussion, Jessie’s husband walks the girls home.

In the morning, Samantha learns that the Rylands are sending Nellie home because she still has the cough she picked up from working in the factory. Desperate to help somehow, Samantha runs back to her own house and helps the cook put together a basket of food for Nellie and her family. Samantha also gives Lydia to Nellie.

Grandmary notices Samantha’s dark mood that evening. Samantha demands to know why her friends have been sent away. Grandmary decides it was wrong to have sent Jessie away and will allow her to bring the baby with her to work. She also agrees to help Nellie’s family financially.

Christian Beliefs


Other Belief Systems


Authority Roles

Grandmary is Samantha’s guardian and is raising her to be a lady. Samantha treats all her grandmother’s servants — Jessie, Hawkins and Mrs. Hawkins — with respect, though she is disappointed in them when they won’t answer her questions.





Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

You can request a review of a title you can't find at reviewrequests@family.org.

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. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.



Readability Age Range

8 to 12


Susan S. Adler






Record Label



Pleasant Company


On Video

Year Published





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