When I was contacted by the publisher with the offer to read & review The Battle of Junk Mountain, I decided to overlook the fact that I am not technically open for review requests and accepted the offer… What can I say? I was in the mood for a middle grade read, and there was something about the cover that spoke to me.
I am happy to report that I was rewarded with a wonderful little gem of a book. The Battle of Junk Mountain is a heartwarming book about new & changing friendships, family drama, and a summer full of changes...
Author: Lauren Abbey Greenberg
Genre: Middle Grade (8-12 years)
Version: Paperback (224 pages)
Publisher: Running Press Kids (April 17, 2018)
For fans of Rebecca Stead and Jennifer L. Holm, this is an atmospheric summer beach read for middle school readers.
Twelve-year-old Shayne Whittaker has always spent summers on the Maine coast, visiting her grandmother Bea and playing with her BFF Poppy. Both Shayne and Bea are collectors, in their own ways: Shayne revels in golden memories of searching for sea glass and weaving friendship bracelets with Poppy, while Bea scours flea markets for valuable finds, much of which she adds to a growing pile in her house that Shayne jokingly calls Junk Mountain.
This summer, though, everything has changed. Poppy would rather talk about boys than bracelets, and Bea’s collecting mania has morphed into hoarding. Only Linc, the weird Civil War-obsessed kid next door, pays attention to her. Turns out Linc’s collected a secret of his own, one that could enrage the meanest lobsterman on the planet, his grandpa. What begins as the worst summer of Shayne’s life becomes the most meaningful, as she wages an all-out battle to save her friendships, rescue her grandmother, and protect the memories she loves the most.
With a setting off the coast of Maine during the summer months, The Battle of Junk Mountain is a wonderful summer read for middle graders. Not only do I think the plotline will appeal to MG readers, but it also tackles some wonderful themes throughout. Themes in this book include evolving friendship, mental illness (hoarding), loss & grief, childhood & growing up, etc. While these are definitely are some “heavier themes”, the author manages to still keep the book balanced with lighter-hearted moments. This is one of those books that is not only entertaining, but teaches important life lessons along the way as well.
Friendship is a big part of The Battle of Junk Mountain. I adored Shayne & Linc’s budding friendship. I just can’t help it, I’m a sucker for lovable eccentric characters, which is just what Linc is. Their friendship isn’t instant by any means, but Shayne & Linc slowly grow on each other. Another aspect of friendship I appreciated about this book was that it deals with a changing friendship between the main character Shayne, and Poppy. The topic of changing friendships is not often addressed in middle grade literature, but it should be. The sad fact is that childhood friends, or even friends in your adult life, drift apart for one reason or another. This drifting could be caused by many reasons: differences in interests, personalities, relocation, etc. This is definitely a sensitive topic, one in which happens to be just one of those things most of us all experience at some point in our lives. I think the author did a great job here, and liked how things were left with Shayne & Poppy.
I’m impressed with how well Greenberg was able to tackle the topic of hoarding in a middle grade book. It felt very realistic & appropriate for this age level without feeling too “watered down.” Hoarding is something that I am personally familiar with, since my Aunt suffered from hoarding. Greenberg really nailed the feelings that family members of hoarders often feel: confusion, frustration, sadness, anger, etc.
I applaud the author for NOT wrapping up everything too nicely at the end of the book. This is done far too often in the middle grade genre. Greenberg leaves some things a little messy, which is how things happen in real life.
*Big thanks to Running Press Kids for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I was sent TWO ARC copies of this book from the publisher by accident, so I will be giving away the extra copy.
**This giveaway will run until 5/29 at 12am EST. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only**
Lauren Abbey Greenberg is a graduate of the Newhouse School at Syracuse University and the Institute of Children’s Literature. She has been published in various children’s magazines and has also written and produced TV spots for Discovery Kids, educational videos for National Geographic, and a film for Mount Rushmore National Memorial. She lives in Maryland with her family and has spent summers in Maine for the past twenty years. This is her debut novel.