A DROP OF HOPE by Keith Calabrese


Age Range: 8 - 12
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A magic well provides hope to people living in a depressed Midwestern town in this debut.

On his deathbed, Ernest Wilmette’s grandfather makes 11-year-old Ernest promise to clean out his attic. The Wilmettes are the richest family in the struggling town of Cliffs Donnelly, Ohio, owners of the local tool-and-die factory. In the attic, he’s attracted to an odd collection of nearly perfect toys. What is he supposed to do? The next day, after standing up to a bully in middle school, he ends up—it’s a long story—stumbling across Thompkins Well, which local folklore says can grant wishes. But Ernest is in a cave at the bottom of the well, and he overhears his Indian-American classmate, newcomer Winston, make a wish—and with the help of one of the items from the attic, the wish comes true. As do many more wishes, from a wide cast of characters (most as white as the Wilmettes, although a favorite teacher is described as indeterminately biracial). The story is told through a very large number of point-of view characters, some of whom play only minor roles, fitting together as neatly as a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle. The sentence-level writing is smooth, and some of the insights are lovely, but the structure is so complicated that it’s going to be a hard slog for many.

This is the sort of book that adults like for children far more than children like for children. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 26th, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-338-23320-9
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Scholastic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 2018


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