In this delightful young adult novel, a 14-year-old girl who has just moved to Martha’s Vineyard gets involved in the environmental movement of the 1970s. Although Clem is already reading Silent Spring on her father’s suggestion, her immediate motivation is her interest in a shy boy who’s involved in restoring the osprey population of Martha’s Vineyard after they’ve been nearly wiped out from pesticide use.
I really loved how Washashore weaves in a real-life environmental message with realistic teenage problems—fitting in, feeling isolated, being bullied, watching her parents’ marriage dissolve, growing up before she’s quite ready, feeling like she needs to save the world, dealing with her first romantic relationship… whew! Really, there’s a lot packed into here.
Washashore’s characters feel very real. They all have their own lives and concerns happening outside of Clem’s point of view, and that influences how they act toward one another. The pacing is steady throughout, building up to tension in several key scenes. And I especially liked that not everything works out perfectly for Clem. She’s at an age where she has to deal with adult issues without really having the experience and skills she needs to handle them. She does her very best at everything she tries, and still there are wins and losses. So she has to learn how to move on from those.
The author has pulled together a story that incorporates so many important themes in such a subtle way that it’s easy just to follow the characters along without noticing it. Instead, you grow along with them as they battle forces in their own lives. I would definitely recommend this both for young teenagers looking for a reflection of themselves and for their parents.
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