Martin Marten

illus. by Katrina van Dusen. 309p. ebook available. Thomas Dunne: St. Martin's. 2015. Tr $24.99. ISBN 9781250045201.
On the slopes of Mt. Hood, OR, a young marten goes from birth to adolescence quickly, while Dave at 14 slowly becomes a young man. Sections of the novel alternate between the marten's and the human's lives. The wild animal is not anthropomorphized, although he is called Martin by the author. He is a fascinating creature of the woods whose survival becomes important as readers learn about him and his family. Dave and his younger sister, Maria, are treasured by their hardworking parents, who live a quiet, simple life in the isolated area. When Dave's father loses his job, Dave seeks employment at the local general store. There, he works for the unusual young owner, a woman who does not accept the idea of marriage. Her story and that of her suitor are cleverly introduced into the plot, and teens will learn to care about them. Gradually, more beautifully portrayed and eccentric characters enter the narrative. At the same time, the marten is becoming fully grown and looking for a mate and Dave is shyly running with a special, athletic girl in his new high school. Maria, Dave's sister, deserves a novel of her own. As a first grader, she wants to apply for fourth grade and sees no reason why students should stay in their designated class. There is adventure, near tragedy, and romance in this luminous novel. The descriptions of the woods will inspire any city dweller to go on a hike.
VERDICT Teens will want to read about the lives of Dave and his friends and be introduced to the fast, clever Martin.

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