Lauren Wolk, Author
Dutton Books for Young Readers, Fiction, Apr. 21, 2020
Suitable for ages: 10-13
Themes: Great Depression, Family Relationships, Nature, Accident, Healing, Hope, Friendship
Opening: “The first person I saved was a dog. My mother thought he was dead, but he was too young to die, just born, still wet and glossy, beautiful really, but not breathing.”
Book Jacket Synopsis:
When the Great Depression takes almost everything they own, Ellie’s family is forced to leave their home in town and start over in the untamed forests of nearby Echo Mountain. Her father was a tailor and her mother a teacher. Life is hard, but Ellie has found a welcome freedom, and a love of the natural world, in her new life on the mountain. But there is little joy, even for Ellie, as her family struggles with the aftermath of an accident that has left her father in a coma. An accident unfairly blamed on Ellie by her older sister, Esther.
Determined to help her father, Ellie will make her way to the top of the mountain in search of the healing secrets of a woman known only as “the hag.” But the hag, and the mountain, still have many untold stories left to reveal and, with them, a fresh chance at happiness.
Echo Mountain is celebration of finding your own path and becoming your truest self. Lauren Wolk, the Newbery Honor– and Scott O’Dell Award–winning author of Wolf Hollow and Beyond the Bright Sea weaves a stunning tale of resilience, persistence, and friendship across three generations of families, set against the rough and ragged beauty of the mountain they all call home.
Why I like this book:
Lauren Wolk is a beautiful storyteller and her writing is exquisite. Set in the Maine wilderness during the Great Depression, her imagery in Echo Mountain is rich and poetic. Her characters are well-developed, with 12-year-old Ellie the kind of girl readers will want to befriend. Wolk’s plot is courageous, gripping, and humorous at times. Her deliberate pacing keeps reader’s fully engaged and wondering what will happen next.
Ellie finds beauty in a wilderness that speaks to her. When her father is injured, Ellie is resilient, curious and eager to learn the secrets of healing from an “old hag” living high in the mountain. There is friendship with the hag’s grandson, Larkin, who reveals a talent of his own. There are secrets, unexpected surprises and harrowing moments for many of the characters, including Ellie’s mother and siblings, Esther and Samuel. They all learn lessons about their inner own inner strengths during a crisis –even the hag. (Sorry, no spoilers.)
Echo Mountain is definitely a stand-out novel and I highly recommend it for teens. The characters will remain with you long after you finish. Wolk’s novel captured my heart and I will eagerly read it again.
Favorite Quote: “I myself was two opposite things at the same time. One: I was now an excellent woods-girl who could hunt and trap and fish and harvest as if I’d been born to it. Two: I was an echo-girl. When I clubbed a fish to death, my own head ached and shuddered. When I snared a rabbit, I knew what it meant to be trapped. And when I pulled a carrot from the sheath of its earth, I, too missed the darkness.” Page 16
Lauren Wolk is an award-winning poet, artist, and author of the adult novel Those Who Favor Fire, the Newbery Honor-winning novel Wolf Hollow, and the Scott O’Dell Award-winning novel Beyond the Bright Sea. She was born in Baltimore and has since lived in California, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Canada, and Ohio. She now lives with her family on Cape Cod.
Greg Pattridge hosts Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts on his wonderful Always in the Middle website. Check out the MMGM link to see all of the wonderful reviews by KidLit bloggers and authors.
*Reviewed from a purchased copy.
16 thoughts on “Echo Mountain by Lauren Wolk”
This sounds marvelous! I loved Wolf Hollow (it took me back to a place and time…). Hadn’t heard of Echo Mountain. Thanks for pointing it out.
You will love spending time with spunky Ellie who actually enjoys moving to Echo Mountain! Great read! Have you read Wolk’s Beyond the Bright Sear? Another great story!
This sounds like a fantastic story. And a great one to read now because it deals with how to handle life and find joy in hard times. Thanks for sharing it.
Yes, I thought it was relevant novel for teens since we live in challenging times. Ellie is such an inspiring character who just has that gift of pushing through difficulties with strong determination.
I think younger kids would also enjoy this story as 9 and 10 year olds always want to read about older characters. Wolf Hollow was a story I fondly remember and this sounds even better. Thanks for featuring on MMGM. Now I just have to squeeze this one into an already crowded reading pile.
Yes, you may be right. Ellie is very mature for her age, but she is curious, determined and independent and does what she knows is the right thing to do — in spite of her mother. Yes, she make mistakes too, but she learns. And, she has a great sense of humor!
Yes, I loved Wolf Hollow too, but there were some really mean/nasty characters in the story. That novel will always be a favorite. And I loved the Beyond the Bright Sea.
Lauren Wolk is one of my favorite writers and I can’t wait to read this. I remember my mom talking about living through the depression when she was a little girl and this sounds like Wolk really got it right.
Wolk really got this story right. You will enjoy her well-developed characters and plot. Hard to put down!
Sounds like a very moving story.
It is moving in many ways. Ellie is quite a determined protagonist who will do anything to heal her father.
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This sounds like a wonderful book! I remember hearing an enormous amount of praise for another of Wolk’s books, Wolf Hollow, so I imagine this one is excellent as well! Also, this is sort of random, but I had no idea there was a Scott O’Dell Award! You really do learn something new every day. Thanks for the wonderful post!
Wolk is such a beautiful literary writer and it shines in all of her books. I loved Echo Mountain and the characters. Wolf Hollow is excellent as is Beyond the Bright Sea — all three very different stories. Hope you get a chance to read her novels. And, she wrote an adult novel, which I’m going to check out.
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I had this one out of the library this summer, but I never got a chance to read it. I will have to get it out again. Thanks for your review!
I think you’ll love Ellie and her spunk. Unlike her family, she embraces the move to the mountains and living in nature — there’s so much to learn. It’s a story of hardship, family and friendships.
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I just moved this to the very top of my TBR list. I LOVED Wolf Hollow, and I think I will like this one just as much. Thanks for your thoughts.
I believe will you enjoy Wolk’s story because of her very strong protagonist and her beautiful writing.