Thursday, April 26, 2012

Child of the Mountains review

Lydia loves growing up in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia. She's not at all embarrassed as to how poor she is or how strange others think she speaks and is proud of her heritage.  She loves her family very much, despite their incredibly difficult life, the hardships they've had to face, and the lack of hope that seems to come from all directions.

It's 1953 and Lydia's world seems to be falling apart. Her beloved Gran died and now her brother, BJ, a young boy suffering from Cystic Fibrosis, has also died, resulting in Lydia's mother being jailed. Tragedy after tragedy follows Lydia, landing her at her Aunt and Uncle's house, where she feels like an outsider, her heart hurting from losing her tight-knit family and feeling like it was somehow her fault.

Although Lydia is broken-hearted, she's also determined to do something about her circumstances. She leans heavily on Bible verses her mother and Gran would repeat in times of need, leading her to a place where she thinks she might actually be able to help. She wants her family back and though she may not get it back in the form she previously knew, Lydia succeeds in all the best ways.

"Sometimes BJ and me spent time sitting on his bed looking at the hills and sky out his upstairs bedroom window. Ain't no better picture for a wall than that 'cause God Hisself painted our picture, and it changed everyday."

This book had so much heart. Lydia's character is beautiful and inspiring in so many ways and the emotional impact of how much she loved and cherished her family was amazing. For a sixth-grader, she is resilient beyond her years, but in a manner that is both believable and lovely.

Child of the Mountains
Marilyn Sue Shank
272 pages
Middle Grade
Random House 
April 2012

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