Rising Above Shepherdsville

Beach Lane/S. & S./. Jun. 2019. 320p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481452830.
Gr 3-7–This debut novel is a somber yet encouraging testament to the power of grief to break people down and of community to help rebuild. It is the summer of 1977 when, after the sudden death of her mother, 12-year-old Dulcie is dropped off in Shepherdsville, OH, to live with her aunt Bernie. Overwhelmed, Dulcie loses her ability to speak, which makes settling into her new environment all the more challenging. However, Dulcie soon discovers hope in unexpected people and places, as well as an inner strength to rise above the pain that has silenced her for so long. While often melancholic in its tone, this story radiates a sense of comfort and warmth. Schoenbohm writes with rich, emotive language that envelops readers in a cozy hug and offers safety even in the face of heavy themes like depression, suicide, and domestic abuse (some readers may benefit from being able to talk through these subjects with a trusted friend or adult). Schoenbohm deftly captures the spirit of each character, from the wise and generous Evangeline to the feisty and untrusting Faith, who feel genuine as their layers are slowly revealed.
VERDICT A moving tale in the vein of Kate DiCamillo’s Because of Winn-Dixie and Clare Vanderpool’s Moon over Manifest; sure to resonate with upper middle grade readers and adults

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