On Snowden Mountain
Book cover
Author(s): Jeri Watts
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Copyright Year: 2019
ISBN/ISSN: 9780763697440
Review

In this beautifully and honestly written work of historical fiction, 12-year-old Ellen Hollingsworth learns about mental illness, abuse, community, and family while navigating a time of war. Ellen's father volunteers to fight in World War II, leaving her home to deal with her clinically depressed mother. Ellen does not know what else to do but to call her aunt, whom she does not really know, and be whisked away from her home in Baltimore to live on Snowden Mountain, located near Big Island, Virginia. Snowden is very different from Ellen's previous home. Here there are no modern conveniences, a schoolhouse with only one room, and everyone knows everyone else. As she tries to deal with her emotions and feelings of abandonment by both parents, Ellen must learn how to live with her aunt and her new, confusing community. She unexpectedly becomes friends with a boy that smells of skunk and who lives with his abusive father and meek mother. Despite all the changes in her life, Ellen learns much about her family, herself, and the world around her. The descriptive writing enables the reader to hear the crunch of the fall leaves, to smell the apple butter cooking, and to taste the pies after Thanksgiving dinner. This is an important story, for mental health issues must be talked about openly, as they never were in the past. Abuse is another issue that is usually swept under the rug but should not be. The author has created a story that can be used to start conversations on these tough topics and which lets young people know that they are not alone if they experience difficult situations such as these. This book is perfect for someone dealing with any of the issues tackled here, for lovers of historical fiction, and for anyone who simply loves a well-crafted tale. This book should be included in every school library, even high school, and in classroom libraries from grades four and up!

Reviewer: Jessica Thompson, Library Media Specialist, Tye River Elementary School, Arrington, VA
Rating: Highly Recommended
Grade (as stated by Reviewer/SLC): 3-8
Review Date: October 1, 2019
Product Description
Ellen's mother has struggled with depression before, but not like this. With her father away fighting in World War II and her mother unable to care for them, Ellen's only option is to reach out to her cold, distant aunt Pearl. Soon enough, city-dwelling Ellen and her mother are shepherded off to the countryside to Aunt Pearl's home, a tidy white cottage at the base of Snowden Mountain. Adjusting to life in a small town is no easy thing: the school has one room, one of her classmates smells of skunks, and members of the community seem to whisper about Ellen's family. But even as she worries that depression is a family curse to which she'll inevitably succumb, Ellen slowly begins to carve out a space for herself and her mother on Snowden Mountain in this thoughtful, heartfelt middle-grade novel from Jeri Watts.
Media Type: Book, eBook
Binding: HC
# Pages: 208
Price: $16.99
Genre: Fiction
Sub-Genre: Historical Fiction
Entry ID: 2226459

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