Thirteen-year-old Rachel is bad news, or so her foster care worker tells her. She’s been shuttled from one rotten foster family to another ever since her mother and brother died in a car accident five years ago, and she’s running out of options. So when she gets caught shoplifting and is kicked out of her latest home, the only place left to send her is the last resort for kids like her: a farm in the middle of nowhere run by a disfigured recluse named Amelia Walton, whom Rachel nicknames “Warty” because of the strange lumps covering her face and neck.
Rachel settles into life at the farm, losing herself in her daily chores and Amelia’s endless trivia, and trying to forget her past and the secret she’s holding inside. But when a letter arrives for her out of the blue, Rachel soon realizes that you can’t hide from your past—or your future.
REVIEW IN CANADIAN MATERIALS:
Thirteen year-old Rachel blames herself for the accident that killed her mother and brother. The pain she feels inside causes her to misbehave and lash out. When she is caught shoplifting, her social worker sends her to live on a farm in New Brunswick with other " last resort" foster kids. Although Rachel only has to follow two rules while living there with Amelia, the owner, and the other children (do your part, and spend an hour a day alone at the lake), Rachel quickly settles in by helping out with the baking, gardening, and pickling. While on the farm, she learns how to sell raspberries, swim, and drive a tractor. Just as she begins to feel wanted and loved again, she receives a letter from a family member she never knew existed. Rachel's actions at school the following day get her suspended, but in time she learns how to communicate her feelings and make decisions that bring happiness and love into her life.
Many of the characters in this book are in the process of healing from traumatic events in their past, but White takes them on journeys (one literally across Canada) that many readers will understand. An audience of tween girls will best enjoy this book.
Susan White is a New Brunswick author who won the Ann Connor Brimer Award in 2012 for The Year Mrs. Montague Cried.
Tanya Boudreau is a librarian at the Cold Lake Public Library in Cold Lake, AB.