Friday, May 09, 2008

The Wild Girls by Pat Murphy

I really enjoyed reading this book, even though I wasn't sure what to expect from the title. In this case, "wild girls" means girls who live in the wild (sort of), not girls who misbehave in a wild way, although Fox, who calls herself the Queen of the Foxes, probably thinks of herself in that way, too. Joan, who is 12, moves to California with her family, and no one except her father is very happy about it. Her new house doesn't have a nice shady yard like her old house in Connecticut - no flowers, no swing hanging from a mulberry tree. When Joan goes exploring her first afternoon in California, she follows a path through the woods. It winds along a creek, and ends up in a small clearing furnished with an easy chair and shelves filled with dishes, food and toys. Before Joan can start to look around, a girl about her age yells at her to get off her property. Of course, this turns out to be Fox (whose real name is Sarah). And, predictably enough, they grow to be best friends--outside of school, that is. Later in the story, Fox and Joan (who has taken on the name Newt) write a short story together that wins a writing contest. This allows them to take a summer writing class from a real writer, on the campus of a nearby college. The class basically saves Sarah, helping her to understand her cold, demanding father better, and to find a way to be more comfortable with herself. Review by Stacy Church

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