Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Anybody Shining by Frances O'Roark McDowell


Anybody Shining

Frances O'Roark Dowell

Blurb: Can one mistake destroy the chance of a lifetime? A girl discovers there are many ways of being true in this magnificent ode to handwritten letters and the shining power of friendship from the author of Dovey Coe, set in the Appalachian mountains of 1920s North Carolina.

One true friend. Someone shining. That's all twelve-year-old Arie Mae wants. But shining true friends are hard to come by deep in the mountains of western North Carolina, so she sets her sights on a cousin unseen, someone who lives all the way away in the big city of Baltimore, Maryland. Three unanswered letters later, Arie Mae learns that a group of kids from Baltimore are coming to spend a summer on the mountain.

Arie Mae loves her smudge of a town; she knows there's nothing finer than Pa's fiddling and Mama's apple cake, but she also knows Big City folk might feel differently. How else to explain the song catcher ladies who have descended upon the village in search of "traditional tunes" and their intention to help "save" the townspeople? But when the group from Baltimore arrives, it seems there just might be a gem among them, one shining boy who doesn't seem to notice Arie Mae wears the same dress every day and prefers to go barefoot. So what if he has a bit of a limp and a rumored heart problem; he also is keen about everything Arie Mae is keen about, and has all the makings of a true friend.

And so what if the boy's mother warns him not to exert himself? He and Arie Mae have adventures to go on! In between writing letters to her cousin, Arie Mae leads her one shining friend on ghost hunts and bear chases. But it turns out those warnings were for a reason.

Genres: Juvenile, Historical Fiction, Realistic Fiction

Publication Date: August 26, 2014

Pages: 240

Series: N/A

My Rating: 4 stars

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Reading this book took me back to when I was a little girl reading all the classics that I could get my hands on. There is something about Arie Mae that reminded me of the heroines in those stories--in fact, the whole book felt a bit like that.

Arie Mae is a protagonist you can't help but like. She's quite loveable, adventurous, and somewhat headstrong. I loved reading her letters to Caroline. There were parts of her personality that reminded me a bit of Anne Shirley of Green Gables, (something that probably added to that opinion is that Arie Mae uses the term 'own true friend', which is a bit like Anne's 'kindred spirits.') which made me like her even more.

The book takes place on the Appalachian mountains in the 1920s. I loved how authentic it felt; it was almost as if I had been transported to that time and place. Something that I really appreciated was the fact that the historical aspect wasn't obnoxiously 'obvious'; the author didn't constantly have to 'remind' the reader that, 'HEY THIS IS HISTORICAL FICTION!!!' (If you can't tell, I don't like that very much.)

I know I mentioned the letters before, but I would like to go a bit more in depth about them. They are really fun to read. Arie Mae's voice is so strong in them, and they really were the cherry on top of the cake for this book. The book isn't told completely in letters, but they start and end the chapters. I loved starting new chapters of this book just so I could read a new letter from Arie Mae. They were great.

So, if you like historical fiction, and I would dare to say that even if you don't, I recommend giving this book a try. It's a really, really good story.

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