Happy Book Birthday to Cordelia Jensen’s and Laurie Morrison’s Every Shiny Thing and Lauren Abbey Greenberg’s The Battle of Junk Mountain!
Every Shiny Thing by Cordelia Jensen & Laurie Morrison
Every Shiny Thing is a uniquely structured novel told in alternating points of view. Told in prose, Lauren comes from an affluent family and is struggling with her parents’ decision to send her brother to a residential school for autistic teens. Told in verse, Sierra is the foster child of Lauren’s neighbors as well as her new classmate. While her father has been in jail, Sierra’s mother was recently arrested and needs to complete rehab as a condition of her sentence.
With her Quaker school’s theme of simplicity and her new friendship with Sierra, Lauren becomes increasingly cognizant of her privilege. She embarks on a project to help autistic children from less affluent families and enlists Sierra to help her. While well intentioned, Lauren becomes consumed with raising money at any cost which begins to negatively affect her friendship with Sierra. Sierra is also grappling with her own personal battle of always taking care of everyone but herself. She finally learns that sometimes the best thing you can do for anyone is to let them fall.
I absolutely adored this beautifully written novel on so many levels. The use of both prose and verse was perfect to share each character’s point of view. I applauded Lauren’s altruism but I was so worried observing how easily the lines between right and wrong became blurred for her. Due to her family circumstances, my heart broke for Sierra but I was touched by the fact that she remained courageous and hopeful. Sierra’s story was definitely a window for me because I know she could be a mirror for many students I teach.
A very special thanks to Laurie Morrison for sending an advance reading copy of Every Shiny Thing to my #bookexcursion group.
This review was originally published on March 25, 2018.
The Battle of Junk Mountain by Lauren Abbey Greenberg
With all the cold, icy, and rainy Maryland weather this week, The Battle of Junk Mountain was the perfect read. I was transported to the Maine coast with 12-year-old Shayne on her summer vacation. Shayne lives in Maryland and always spends summers on Thomas Cove with her grandmother Bea and her best friend Poppy. Nostalgic for summers past, this vacation is different. Poppy’s free time is limited because she has to work at her father’s grocery store. Bea is not ready to let go of her treasured collectibles as Shayne is organizing and pricing them for sale at a flea market. Then to her surprise, Shayne develops an unlikely friendship with Civil War obsessed Linc, the grandson of Bea’s neighbor Cranky.
The Battle of Junk Mountain is a definitely a page turner. Once I began, it was hard to stop reading. The novel starts with anticipation of a fun-filled summer but as you read each chapter (and by the way, pay close attention to each title), Lauren begins to tackle not only familiar topics like changing friendships but also the serious topic of hoarding. Readers will quickly fall in love with Shayne for she shows both maturity and vulnerability. While she can tackle new situations like banding lobster claws and driving a boat, it is evident that Shayne like Bea is holding on to the past and apprehensive about change. Growing up and letting go is hard, but Shayne learns that change can actually surprise you in a good way.
A sincere thank you to fellow Marylander Lauren Abbey Greenberg for sharing an ARC of her debut middle grade novel The Battle of Junk Mountain with my #bookexcursion group.
This review was originally published on February 11, 2018.