The Impossible Destiny of Cutie Grackle

Peachtree. May 2022. 336p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781682633205.
Gr 3-7–Part suspense, part mystery, part adventure, and all intrigue, this is an engrossing story set in the rural mountains of West Virginia, where the closest neighbor is 15 miles away. Ten-year-old Cutie Grackle leads an abnormal life, complete with a shack on top of a mountain that she calls home, an uncle as a guardian who is never present, and a curse that has been around for decades. Cutie has to grow up quickly and become the “adult” in her home. Since her parents are gone and her uncle is not always lucid, Cutie becomes self-dependent and tries to meet her own needs, though she is fortunate to have the help of one kind mentor who takes her to visit the local food pantry each month. She is so lonely she creates friends out of inanimate objects, such as a garden gnome. Readers will sympathize with the conditions of Cutie’s home life. She knows nothing of her father and has only been given the name of her mother, though she knows there is some type of curse connected to her and possibly to her disappearance. Will Cutie be able to figure out the curse and find a way to break it? Will her luck and life circumstances change, or will she be stuck on the desolate mountain top, with a hunger for food and friends, forever?
VERDICT A compelling hybrid tale of realistic survival and supernatural adventure; fans of Kate DiCamillo will enjoy the style of writing in this unique middle grade novel.

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