Thursday, December 17, 2020

Lyrical and Lovely, Echo Mountain An Enjoyable MG Historical

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

The Great Depression has wreaked havoc all over the country, forcing people into strange, new circumstances.  For 12-year-old Ellie, that means moving out of her comfortable home in town and into a cramped cabin on remote Echo Mountain.  Although her family's reduced circumstances are far from ideal, Ellie loves the freedom she now has to roam about exploring the wonders of the natural world.  The mountain is full of surprises and mysteries and she's determined to discover them all!

When a terrible accident leaves her father in a coma, Ellie's whole family is devastated.  Unfairly blamed for causing his injury, Ellie feels responsible for saving him.  She sets out to find a mystical mountain hag who is said to have otherworldly powers capable of curing any ailment.  Can the witch bring Ellie's dad back to life?  As Ellie separates Echo Mountain's fabled myths from its true magic, she'll discover the power of her own pluck, resiliency, and strength of character.  Using her own unique talents she just might be able to save them all.  

I love finely-wrought historical fiction that brings a unique time and place to life.  Echo Mountain, the newest middle-grade offering from Lauren Wolk, certainly does that.  Her descriptions of mountain life are vivid and compelling.  Ellie is an easy-to-admire heroine who cares more about other people than herself.  She and her fellow cast members are likable, although flawed.  Plot-wise, there's enough going on in Echo Mountain to keep the story moving along at a steady pace.  Because of its old-fashioned feel, I'm not sure how much kid appeal this novel has.  Hopefully some since it teaches valuable lessons about listening to your instincts, respecting nature, not making assumptions about people, and using your unique skills and resources to help other people.  Lovely and lyrical, Echo Mountain is also moving, hopeful, and engaging.  I enjoyed it.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me a little of Where the Watermelons Grow by Cindy Baldwin, also of The Healing Spell by Kimberley Griffiths Little)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for violence and scary situations

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

16 comments:

  1. This sounds good. My interest in the Depression was elevated after reading Stormy Weather by Paulette Jiles.

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    1. I haven't read STORMY WEATHER. I find Depression books fascinating, though, so I'll have to pick it up. Thanks for the rec!

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  2. I'd probably like this one just for it's old-fashioned feel. :)

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  3. Hmm. Sounds just like The Healing Spell. Rural, mystical setting. Accidental coma for parent that MC blames on herself/or her family does. She sets out to find the local Cajun traiteur that has powers to cure and people think is a witch. Just change the time period and place it on a mountain rather than the bayou. Interesting.

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    1. How did I not think of THE HEALING SPELL? Duh. I'll add it to the readalikes list for this book. The basic story structures are very similar, as you pointed out.

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    2. You're very kind, Susan, thank you! Although I wasn't trying to prod you into adding my book as a read-alike. It just kind of bugged me that this book is so similar to mine. Maybe I'm being too sensitive, but I thought my book was pretty dern unique when I wrote it and this is so very similar in its entire premise that it honestly makes me wonder if they just changed the setting and had the dad in a coma instead of the mom because they were riffing off my book. Oh, well, I'll probably never know. Merry Christmas to you!

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    3. I'm often stumped on readalikes, so I love it when people help me out :) And ECHO MOUNTAIN really is similar in structure and theme to THE HEALING SPELL. The books have different vibes, though. You'll have to read ECHO MOUNTAIN and let me know what you think about the similarities and differences. It's been too long since I read THE HEALING SPELL for me to compare/contrast them effectively.

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  4. New author and book for me. I appreciated the review.

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    1. Thanks, Mystica! The author has a couple other books out, but this is the first one I've read by her.

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  5. I've always been fascinated by history and loved studying it. This combined with an intriguing story is always a winning combination!

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    1. For sure! I love learning about history through interesting stories. I don't really care about facts and figures, it's the human drama that captivates me.

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  6. This sounds like a good one. I love it when books have some valuable lessons for us to learn. :)

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    1. MG novels always teach good lessons. I prefer it when they're taught in subtle ways, though, which happens in ECHO MOUNTAIN.

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  7. It's funny that you say it's got an old fashioned feeling as that came across in the description. I do think any book with a rural setting has that danger for 21st century students.

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    1. Right? And "slower" books are a hard sell for today's kids. Unfortunately, it seems to me that ECHO MOUNTAIN is the kind of book adults give awards to and children never read.

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