"I Must Read, Read, and Read. It is my Vocation." - Thomas Merton
This is where I chronicle my reading life. I also blog about writing at Lacey's Late-night Editing.
I really wanted to like this book. I really hoped I would like this book. Despite the fact that it had never really interested me much, it won the Newbery. So I thought when I read it for my book club, I may have found myself happily exposed to a great book that I never would have picked up otherwise.
Unfortunately, there was no happy surprise here. The book rang a steady note of "average" all the way through. I felt no real sense of suspense the entire time, and too many of the book's "secrets" were much too easy to see coming. Usually that doesn't bother me in Middle Grade books because I know they're written for an audience with less experience in fiction tropes, but I didn't feel like this book had the "heart" to make up for it.
Which is a shame, because I know "heart" is what this book was going for -- perhaps too self-consciously at times. I didn't really buy the old-fashioned country "voice" and didn't think that Abilene sounded like a real twelve-year-old, although her friends mostly did. But perhaps that aspect of the book was ruined by the narrator in the audiobook, who told the whole story in a sort of smug, self-satisfied way.
What I liked about the book was its message about strength in diversity and its portrait of a town of immigrants coming together for a common cause. Perhaps this book won the Newbery because pro-immigrant stories are still sorely needed today. I just wish I could have liked the rest of the book as much as I liked that message.