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Reviewed by:
  • Child of the Mountains
  • Hope Morrison
Shank, Marilyn Sue . Child of the Mountains. Delacorte, 2012. 259p. Library ed. ISBN 978-0-375-98969-8 $19.99 Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-385-74079-1 $16.99 E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-375-98929-2 $10.99 R Gr. 5-8.

Growing up in 1950s Appalachia, Lydia has experienced considerable loss in her eleven years. Her alcoholic father was killed in a construction accident, her brother died of cystic fibrosis, her beloved grandmother passed two years ago, and her mother is currently in prison on unfair charges. Lydia recounts her life in a notebook wherein she attempts to sort it all out, and the chapters are arranged topically, each focusing on an experience or a story from the past that is relevant to her present struggle. Part historical fiction, part mystery, this novel is particularly adept at intrigue, with the reasons for Lydia's mother's imprisonment enticingly hinted at until finally the full story is revealed, and a second mystery about Lydia's birth surfacing later. There's a warm authenticity to Lydia's narration, written in mountain dialect. The flashback stories are filled with love and affection, making the subsequent losses all the more painful as Lydia remembers good times with her grandmother, brother, and mother before everything began to change. While the ending is somewhat contrived, with a compassionate lawyer stepping in to help Lydia's family, readers will nevertheless cheer when justice prevails and Lydia and her mother are reunited. This is an honest tale, full of strong characterizations and evocative stories. A note about the author's own West Virginia background is included. [End Page 583]



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