Published by Dutton Books for Young Readers
Summary: 1943 is the year Annabelle turns 12, and a year when heart-wrenching circumstances change her life forever. The catalyst is the arrival of Betty Glengarry, the 14-year-old granddaughter of Annabelle’s neighbors, and a girl who quickly establishes herself as a bully. Her targets include Annabelle and Toby, a World War I veteran who lives as a squatter on a smokehouse near Annabelle’s family’s farm. Although some of the neighbors have always been wary of Toby, Annabelle and her parents know him as a good man, if somewhat reserved and eccentric. When Betty goes missing, Toby is a prime suspect, and Annabelle believes it is up to her to help. Despite her efforts, tragic events unfold, and Annabelle sees the best and worst of humanity encapsulated in her small Pennsylvania community. 304 pages; grades 5-8.
Pros: The beautiful writing, engagingly flawed characters, and subtle but profound messages have put this book at the top of my 2017 Newbery contender list.
Cons: This is definitely a tragedy…there’s not a happy ending, although it’s appropriate, and in many ways, satisfying. Young readers will need some help to understand the many layers of the story.