Age Range: 11 - 14
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Carrying her battered Garfield backpack—which carries a small bag of her mother’s ashes—14-year-old Hope accompanies Sarah, her current in a long line of foster mothers, to Nebraska. Anna, Sarah’s mother, runs her own farm there, and when she begins to tell Hope the stories of the remarkable women who have preserved the farmland and its accompanying meadow, Hope’s distance toward her foster family gives way to curiosity. Although the women have much in common, first-time author Gray lets each one tell her own story using a blend of writing formats. Hope first explores letters written by Abigail, whose father staked the original claim; pores over Rebecca’s diary, which records the girl adjusting to life as a servant for a German immigrant family; and listens to Anna recount an oral history of the Depression era. Finally, Hope comes to understand Sarah better after reading about Sarah and Anna’s fight to keep a missile silo from being placed in the meadow. In between learning about these past efforts, Hope forges her own identity and confronts her grief. After first believing that memories “. . . couldn’t be shared,” Hope finds that the strength and history of women is a memory to be owned and shared by all women. While the experienced adult reader may find that the plot comes together too easily, young adolescents will overlook this minor flaw as descriptions of a soft, wet newborn calf and other memories of the farm entice the senses. An excellent candidate for mother/daughter book groups, Holding Up the Earth will become a collective memory for young teenage girls. (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-618-00703-2
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 2000