Laurel “Bone” Phillips is a twelve-year-old girl in 1942 living in the fictional town of Big Vein, Virginia, a coal camp near the New River. Supernatural gifts have been handed down to her family members for generations, and she begins to realize that she is developing the gift of seeing happenings from the past by holding objects. She finds joy in holding a fiddle, but sadness when holding an arrowhead that killed a deer. Holding her mother’s yellow sweater brings both sad and joyful feelings, but when she is warned that her mother’s gift is what killed her, Bone’ s quest for understanding takes on a whole new urgency. This youth novel is the first of a trilogy. “In a genuine voice that sucks readers into Appalachia during World War II, Smibert tells an absorbing coming-of-age story. The narrative has the feel of the Appalachian folktales that the protagonist loves so much, with a mix of realism and magic. Smibert weaves the folktales intricately into the story. Middle graders won’t want Bone’s story to end.” – School Library Journal. The author, Angie Smibert, grew up in Blacksburg, Virginia, and now lives in Roanoke. She is the author of several youth books of both fiction and non-fiction and worked for ten years at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
Honesdale, Pennsylvania: Boyd’s Mills Press/Highlights, 2018. 249 pages. Trade paperback.