Title: The Battle of Junk Mountain
Author: Lauren Abbey Greenberg
Publisher: Running Press kids, 2018
Themes: ageing, grandparents, hoarding, Maine, island life, summer friendships, loss & grief, growing up, coming-of-age
I didn’t expect my summer sister to ditch me the first minute of vacation. She could’ve at least waited until I emptied my suitcase.
Twelve-year-old Shayne Whittaker has always spent summers on the Maine coast, visiting her grandmother Bea and playing with her BFF Poppy. Both Shayne and Bea are collectors, in their own ways: Shayne revels in golden memories of searching for sea glass and weaving friendship bracelets with Poppy, while Bea scours flea markets for valuable finds, much of which she adds to a growing pile in her house that Shayne jokingly calls Junk Mountain.
This summer, though, everything has changed. Poppy would rather talk about boys than bracelets, and Bea’s collecting mania has morphed into hoarding. Only Linc, the weird Civil War-obsessed kid next door, pays attention to her. Turns out Linc’s collected a secret of his own, one that could enrage the meanest lobster-man on the planet, his grandpa. What begins as the worst summer of Shayne’s life becomes the most meaningful, as she wages an all-out battle to save her friendships, rescue her grandmother, and protect the memories she loves the most. (GR)
Why I like this book:
This book has a sharp well-paced plot, well fleshed out characters with character and charm, and a terrific setting, which makes for a very satisfying middle grade read. This coming of age story feels fresh and original and has characters that readers will connect with especially those who have navigated changing friendships as they transition toward adulthood. While it has some lighthearted moments, it is a story that won’t leave you indifferent.
With its Maine setting and warmth of personalities, it reminded me of some Cynthia Lord’s middle grade novels in the best possible way. Having visited Maine islands myself, I could smell the sea air and taste the lobster rolls!
The changing relationships among family and friends is beautifully handled, especially the frustrations and concerns of Shayne’s aging, hoarder-granny. It is a serious topic I haven’t seen addressed in other MG books and Greenberg approaches it with superb sensitivity and realism. Common adolescent concerns are matched with wonderful unusual character traits/interests bringing a vivid now feel to each scene. It is a great tween read and inpsiring debut novel.
The Battle of Junk Mountain now has a study guide, perfect for classroom or book club use! You can find it on the author’s website: laurenabbeygreenberg.com.