Sunday, February 23, 2014

One Came Home by Amy Timberlake

One Came Home by Amy Timberlake is one of this year's Newbery Honor books.

Georgie doesn't believe her sister Agatha is dead. Agatha ran away from home a few weeks ago, and now the sheriff has brought back a badly mutilated body found in the woods, wearing the remains of Agatha's dress and with the same auburn hair. Thirteen-year-old Georgie feels that there's more to the story of Agatha's disappearance. She rents a mule from Billy McCabe, her sister's former sweetheart, and sets out to find the truth. Of course, she doesn't plan on Billy tagging along -- and that's only the first unexpected occurrence on a journey fraught with mystery and, occasionally, danger. Will Georgie ever learn exactly what happened to Agatha? Is this trip about finding her sister, or is it about coming to terms with her sister's death?

This well-researched and well-written piece of historical fiction is well-deserving of the honors it has received. Set in 1871 Wisconsin, the story is told against the backdrop of the passenger pigeon migration. The characters are fully rounded and always interesting, though not always likable. Some of the events in the final chapter feel tacked on for the sake of historical interest rather than being essential to the plot, but all in all this is an impressive novel, and I hope to see more by this author in the future.

(Reviewed from a copy borrowed through my library system.)

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