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THE LIGHT IN THE LAKE by Sarah R. Baughman Kirkus Star


by Sarah R. Baughman

Pub Date: Sept. 3rd, 2019
ISBN: 978-0-316-42242-0
Publisher: Little, Brown

While Addie’s close-knit family and rural Vermont community grieve her twin’s accidental drowning in Maple Lake last winter, only Addie knows why Amos ventured onto the ice that night.

Addie, a future aquatic biologist, scoffed when Amos insisted a large creature lived in the lake. Joining a scientific team investigating Maple Lake for the summer allows her to revisit what she regrets dismissing. Her parents and extended family cherish the pristine lake too, but Addie’s eagerness to explore it troubles them and limits the time she can devote to raising a 4-H calf with her cousin, Liza. (Their fathers grew up on the dairy farm Liza’s family runs). All are reluctant to believe Maple Lake’s in trouble, but there’s no denying the evidence Addie produces with the Chinese American lead scientist’s son, Tai. Also 12, Tai’s a likable city kid who reminds her of Amos. Addie shares her brother’s theory with Tai, and this—with the water samples they’ve collected—points to an unexpected source for the lake’s problems. Tai shares her concern; he’s seen pollution’s impact when in China. Addie’s close-knit, homogenous (presumably white) community wants to blame superstore construction and overdevelopment for the pollution, but not all problems come from outside. Baughman convincingly portrays the varied reactions to the findings as well as everybody’s desire for the lake to thrive. Without a villain to blame or superhero offering easy solutions, the book offers appealing characters whose opposing interests embody what’s at stake.

Compassionately told, this compelling debut brings to life conservation issues and choices young readers will confront as adults

. (Fiction. 8-12)