The threat of two escaped convicts and a missing friend lead Lizzie on a harrowing journey through the wilds of the Adirondacks in this stunning novel from National Book Award finalist Beth Kephart.
Thirteen-year-old Lizzie’s favorite place in the world is her uncle’s cabin. Uncle Davy’s renovated schoolhouse cabin, filled with antiques and on the edge of the Adirondacks, disconnected from the rest of the world, is like something out of a fairy tale. And an escape from reality is exactly what Lizzie needs. Life hasn’t been easy for Lizzie lately. Her father abandoned their family, leaving Lizzie with her oftentimes irresponsible mother. Now, her mom has cancer and being unable to care for Lizzie during her chemotherapy, Mom asks her where she’d like to spend the summer. The answer is simple: Uncle Davy’s cabin.
Lizzie loves her uncle’s home for many reasons, but the main one is Matias, Uncle Davy’s neighbor and Lizzie’s best friend. Matias has proportionate dwarfism, but that doesn’t stop him and Lizzie from wandering in the woods. Every day they go to their favorite nook where Matias paints with watercolors and Lizzie writes. Until one day when Matias never arrives.
When news breaks about two escaped convicts from the nearby prison, Lizzie fears the worst. And when Uncle Davy goes missing, too, Lizzie knows she’s the only one who knows this area of woods well enough to save them. Armed with her trusted Keppy survival book, Lizzie sets out into the wilds of the Adirondacks, proving just how far she’ll go to save the people she loves.
Published June 5th 2018 by Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
The Adirondack Park, a protected park in the U.S. state of New York, is absolutely gorgeous. A great area to view the fall colors, go hiking, explore caves, enjoy rivers and streams as well as the abundance of wildlife. It is also a place you don’t want to get lost!
Lizzie favorite place to be is at her Uncle Davy’s cabin on the outskirts of the Adirondack Mountains. Nestled in and secluded, this is where she will spend her summer. Away from home, away from her mother who has cancer, away from her father who left them. Only her uncle, her best friend Matias, her writing and reading. Nothing stands in the way of a great summer to forget her troubles.
Every day Lizzie and Matias head out to their favorite spot in the woods to paint and pass the time. Matias has proportionate dwarfism and is from San Salvador. Despite his crutches, he gets along well and lets nothing stand in his way. He spends lots of times talking to Lizzie about his country and brings pupusas to share. A traditional Salvadoran dish of a thick corn tortilla stuffed with a savory filling.
One morning, Matias does not show. Confused she searches for him without any luck. As she tries to get back to her uncle, she notices that he is missing as well. There is but one thing she must do now…be brave and find her friend who won’t be able to get around well in the woods in his condition.
This is a lovely read. Very lyrical and poetic in structure and style. Lizzie’s thoughts, fears and wonders of the world are expressed amazingly deep. She has so much to process and understand about her parents and the different world her friend comes from. The reader is taken on her journey of growth and understanding, a way of a coming of age.
I did like the description of the beautiful surroundings that this takes place in. I am not sure if a middle grader can perhaps appreciate or enjoy the prose and depth of Lizzie's thought process this well yet. For that, I think, it would definitely make a great literary read as a class project to learn of San Salvador, the Adirondacks Mountains and explore about dwarfism and difficult family dynamics.
I received a digital copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange of an honest review. All opinions are my own. Thank you.