Review Detail

Kids Fiction 811
Contemplative Summer Read
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A
Wren Baker has a difficult family life-- her brother Russell is on the Autism spectrum, and her mother is down so often that she can't even make dinner. Her cousin and aunt have recently moved to town, but Silver is a popular cheerleader and won't give Wren the time of day at school. When Wren's mother must be hospitalized for her depression in Ohio, her father goes there as well, and Russell and Wren must stay at Silver's house. Russell settles in surprisingly well, and Wren learns that Silver is very different at home than she is at school. The two develop an interest in Witch Weatherly, who reportedly lives far up the mountain near their Pennsylvania town. The two manage to work around the objections of Silver's mother and make it up the mountain to interview her. Of course, Silver is injured on the way up, but the two learn secrets that tie into Wren's mother's anxieties, and come to appreciate Bedelia Weatherly in a new way.
Good Points
I really enjoyed the relationship between Wren and her cousin Silver. I have 38 cousins, most of whom I wouldn't know on sight, and I don't think that I would have gotten along with my closest in age cousin when we were in middle school. There's not enough middle grade literature that features this unique relationship. It's an intriguing relationship, and their interest in Witch Weatherly had its moments, too.

Many children today don't get a chance to be outside very much, and while Wren and Silver's outdoor adventure is ill-advised, readers will find their wilderness skills (or lack thereof) to be intriguing.

Readers who enjoy books where children confront multiple problems will enjoy this, and it is a title that can be included on several topic lists. The mother's anxiety will resonate with readers of Jones' Silhouetted by the Blue or Connor's Waiting for Normal, while the brother's issues are reflected in Rorby's How to Speak Dolphin and Lord's Rules.
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