Running the Goat. Oct. 2021. 224p. pap. $12.99. ISBN 9781927917435.
Gr 6 Up–In the early 1900s, as the last surviving child of seven, Dorthea lives in an ancient house in Newfoundland with her alcoholic father and distant, disapproving mother. The arrival of Signor Marconi, a pioneer of wireless telegraphy, piques the curiosity and suspicions of a local newsman, and Dor soon finds herself a spy, undercover in boys’ clothes as the plucky Jack Kelly. After her mother suddenly disappears in the middle of the night, the 13-year-old stumbles upon some otherworldly truths about her home that she must accept if her mother is to be rescued. Although the larger setting is atmospherically reminiscent of Erin A. Craig’s House of Salt and Sorrows, its effect on plot tension is lost in meandering descriptions of the characters and more specific locales. Younger readers may also find the vocabulary and inconsistently applied dialect difficult to follow, despite their contribution to grounding the story’s island backdrop. However, Dor is a headstrong but kindhearted character relatable to younger teens, and her exploration of gender and sexuality is depicted with a gentle wonder congruent with the overall tone of the story.
VERDICT Purchase only for collections serving strong and patient readers fascinated by historical settings.

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