Thirteen-year-old Katerina and her little sisters want to believe in their dreams, but life in a Colorado coal camp threatens to turn them into pipe dreams.
Take one maybe-magical carp and three sisters who believe in wishes, stir them together with an evil shopkeeper and add a dash of romance, and you have one dandy first novel. Katerina’s sisters wish for little hair ribbons and plum dumplings when they find a special fish, but big sister has appropriately bigger plans. She wishes that her family could leave the coal town and have the farm they hoped to own when they left Bohemia for America in the late 1800s. But dreams are tricky things, easily dashed when real life interferes. This is a world where the coal company owns everything, pays hardworking immigrants in scrip that can only be used at the company store, separates the workers by nationality so they cannot organize and, worst of all, ignores safety regulations. Weaving rich details of life in a mining town at the turn of the 20th century with the pacing of a good old-fashioned historical romance and conveying it all in Katerina's heartfelt voice, Mobley has constructed a world where one determined teenager with brains for business, the bravery to stand up for herself and the ability to find love help make dreams come true.
Top-notch. (Historical fiction. 9-14)