THE SECOND LIFE OF ABIGAIL WALKER by Frances O’Roark Dowell
Kirkus Star

THE SECOND LIFE OF ABIGAIL WALKER

Age Range: 9 - 12

KIRKUS REVIEW

When Abby’s one-time friend whispers to her, “You’re dead,” Abby knows it’s true. Maybe not dead physically, but dying inside. 

Avoiding Georgia and Kristen, who make snarky remarks about her weight in the lunchroom, the sixth-grader makes new friends, including two Indian-American boys whose easy tolerance is refreshing. Fleeing a home visit by the two bullying girls, she meets 9-year-old Anders, whose father is also dying inside. The Iraq War veteran is frightened by much of the peaceful world of the family horse farm, where he waits for space in a VA hospital.  For “Tubby Abby,” farm visits are both physically and emotionally helpful. As she did in The Secret Language of Girls (2004) and its sequel, The Kind of Friends We Used to Be (2009), Dowell weaves themes of friendship and personal growth into a rich and complex narrative. A third story strand follows the desert fox Abby meets in the overgrown lot across the street from her house, adding a fantasy element and further connections. Like the fox in the Wendell Barry epigraph, some of Abby’s tracks are in the wrong direction. But her resurrection is satisfying.

Middle school mean girls are not uncommon, in fiction or in life, but seldom has an author so successfully defeated them without leaving her protagonist or her reader feeling a little bit mean herself. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28th, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-4424-0593-6
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Atheneum
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2012




TOP 10 MIDDLE-GRADE BOOKS FOR AUGUST:

Children THE EMPTY CITY by Erin Hunter
by Erin Hunter
Children THE BOSTON TEA PARTY by Russell Freedman
by Russell Freedman
Children LIAR & SPY by Rebecca Stead
by Rebecca Stead
Children CHICKADEE by Louise Erdrich
by Louise Erdrich

MORE BY FRANCES O’ROARK DOWELL

ChildrenTHE SOUND OF YOUR VOICE, ONLY REALLY FAR AWAY by Frances O’Roark Dowell
by Frances O’Roark Dowell
ChildrenTEN MILES PAST NORMAL by Frances O’Roark Dowell
by Frances O’Roark Dowell
ChildrenFALLING IN by Frances O’Roark Dowell
by Frances O’Roark Dowell

SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

ChildrenREVENGE OF THE SNOB SQUAD by Julie Anne Peters
by Julie Anne Peters
ChildrenA CORNER OF THE UNIVERSE by Ann M. Martin
by Ann M. Martin