Trade ed. ISBN 978-1-62672-418-1 $16.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-1-62672-419-8 $9.99
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 5-7
Twelve-year-old Charlotte Lake is accustomed to moving around, and now, thanks to a dream and “the spirit of Laura Ingalls Wilder, ” her mother has relocated the family to Walnut Grove so she can write a Laura-inspired novel about a pioneer girl. Her twin brother Freddy’s defection from quiet loner and half of the tight Charlotte-Freddy unit to a happy part of a group of boys devastates Charlotte’s security, as does their mom’s depressive writer’s block and her half-sister Rose’s eventual meltdown about the distance of her dad. Driven by fear, Charlotte makes some hefty mistakes with her new friends and with her family, but with work she, her family, and her friendships manage to pull through the rough spots and come out a bit scarred but stronger. Charlotte’s character is deftly drawn, and thoughtful readers will sense that her initial observations of people are not always accurate, but the fear of rejection that drives her is so palpable that readers will easily sympathize. The family and friendship dynamics play out believably and compellingly, and the Laura Ingalls connection will draw in fans and enrich the reading experience. Between adroitly [End Page 136] interwoven American history and the engaging relationship drama, there is plenty of material here for group discussion and personal contemplation.