My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Publication Date: November 1st, 2016
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Point of View: 1st Person & Feminine
Recommended Age: 10+
Genres & Themes: Middle Grade, Historical Fiction, Family
Twelve-year-old Chestnut Hill’s daddy stole her and the triplets away from their mama. At least, that’s how Chestnut remembers it.
It’s 1921, and after nearly two years on the road with his traveling elixir show, Daddy’s still making no move to go back to Kentucky and buy Mama that house. So Chestnut is forced to come up with her own plan to get home. At night, when Daddy and the triplets are in bed, she draws up flyers with the name of the next town they’ll be traveling to. Before they leave each town and hoping her mama will see them, she nails up the flyers, leaving Mama an easy trail straight to her children.
When that doesn’t work, Chestnut is forced to try something bigger. But when her newest plan lands Daddy in jail and Mama has to come to the rescue, Chestnut discovers that things are not always as they seem. Written with a wonderful mountain hillbilly voice, Snakes and Stones has a mystery at its heart and lovable, strong, and complicated characters.
What a heart-warming historical middle grade novel.
With a focus on family relationships, it narrates the story of twelve-year-old Chestnut who travels with her three younger siblings and her Daddy from town to town to sell this peculiar (and very much fake) elixir that is supposedly miraculous for your health.
Except Chestnut hates it. She hates the shows. She hates the lying. And she hates her Daddy for taking her and her siblings away from their mother two years ago. She wants to go back to her. She thinks her Daddy is a bad man for doing such a thing and for the way he treats her every day.
I really liked the story. It’s pretty original when you think about it. Most historical middle grade novels I know of or have read focus on WWII, and even then there aren’t so many of them, so this was indeed like a breath of fresh air for me.
Chestnut has a strong voice. By that I mean that, yes, she is a strong, intelligent character who knows what she wants and does her best to get it, but she is also mature for her age and has a strong sense of what is right and what is wrong. She protects, she defends, and she fights with all her might when needed.
There is one thing though, otherwise I would gladly have given this a full four-star-rating, and that is the manipulation. I felt very much manipulated by Chestnut and various scenes and dialogs between characters into believing that Chestnut’s Daddy is a very, very bad man. We don’t have HIS side of the story until the very end, so there was no way of looking at things and then decide for ourselves if her Daddy really deserves to be looked upon in that way or not.
But despite that, I had real fun with this story and would love to see it gain more popularity.
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