Book: Echo Mountain (2020)
Author: Lauren Wolk
Genre: MG, Historical [1930s]
Basic plot: Ellie and her family have come to live on Echo Mountain during the Great Depression. When her father is put into a coma after being struck by a tree, Ellie is determined to wake him up. She ends up finding the hag who lives at the top of the mountain, only to discover that the mysterious woman is facing her own medical emergency. Ellie seeks ways to help the hag with hopes that she might in turn help her father as well.
Opening lines from the book …
The first person I saved was a dog.
WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THIS BOOK…
1) The Great Depression has always fascinated me. This book isn’t quite your typical middle-grade book set during the Depression. Rather it’s also a survival story of sorts where the town family must learn to live off the land on the mountain, including dealing with life-threatening medical emergencies.
2) I enjoyed Ellie’s growing relationship with the mysterious “hag”, Miss Cate. I have always been fascinated by natural medicine/remedies. And this is a great part of the book, especially with Miss Cate teaching Ellie about the use of maggots and honey and even vinegar! (I am glad I didn’t need to “see” the injuries talked about in the book!)
3) There are some nice little twists and connections between the various characters in the book. This is especially true with Larkin, Miss Cate, and the dog Captan. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I won’t say any more about that right now.
4) I like the arc of the mother. At first, she is not on Ellie’s side. As she deals with being the only parent (since her husband is in a coma), she does her best as the mother of three children. Ellie causes her quite a bit of grief when she wanders all over the mountain. But as the book progresses, the mother at least tries to understand the daughter that has so embraced the mountain life.
5) I love the little brother Samuel! (The sister, Esther, is harder to like.) But, it’s nice to see Ellie interact with her brother’s endless questions. And of course, there’s Quiet, the dog. I love it when Samuel and Quiet start to bond. (And to be truthful, I was more interested in the relationship between Quiet and Samuel than Quiet and Ellie.)
6) There’s a little story about Florence Nightingale that Miss Cate tells that absolutely won me over. (Florence Nightingale has been one of my childhood heroes since forever!)
THINGS THAT BOTHERED ME…
1) It was a little bit of a slow start for me. Just take that into account. I’d say that about half-way through, I became more interested in finding out how the book will turn out.
If you love a good survival/pioneer type story, this book is for you. Ellie takes to life on Echo Mountain like a fish to water. And it’s part of the fun of the book to see her find solutions in nature.
Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday…