Sunday, August 19, 2018


38337259O'Connor, Barbara. Wonderland.
August 28th 2018 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

E ARC from Edelweiss Plus

Mavis Jeeter and her mother have moved around a lot, mainly because her mother is never happy with any of her jobs. It's hard on Mavis, who just really wants to stay in one place and make some friends. When the two move to Alabama so her mother can be the housekeeper for the Tullys, Mavis is superexcited. Not only do they have a nice, if small, apartment as part of the job, but there is a girl, Rose, just her own age. There's plenty to do in the gated community, including riding Rose's skateboard, talking to the gatekeeper, Mr. Duffy, and trying to corral a greyhound they find in the woods. They also have to deal with Amanda, who has an on-again-off-again friendship with Rose, and as usual, Mavis' mother finds plenty to complain about with her job. Mr. Duffy is finding it hard to cope with his job after the death of his job, and Rose worries about him. Mavis is bound and determined that getting him a new dog will solve all of his problems. The dog they find (and for whom Amanda has been caring!) is from a local dog racetrack, Wonderland. When they bring the dog to Mr. Duffy, he says the dog must be returned, but this actually ends up helping things work out for everyone, in unexpected ways. How long will Mavis be able to stay in her current situation before her mother decides it is time to move on?
Strengths: This reminded me a lot of Constance Greene's A Girl Called Al, but just in the plot line about Mr. Duffy, and it certainly ends in a MUCH happier way. I loved seeing both sides of the economic divide-- people who live in gated communities, and people who work for them. Mavis is a force of nature, and her optimism in the face of difficulties is refreshing. Rose's shyness and difficulty in dealing with her overbearing mother is interesting as well. It's fun to watch her break free. Henry is a great dog, and the way his future and Mr. Duffy's become entwined is very realistic. I was very glad at the end that Mavis' mother was able to adjust her outlook on life-- that doesn't happen often, and it was refreshing to see.
Weaknesses: I wish there had been a lot more information about Wonderland and greyhound rescue operations. Also, I am having a LOT of trouble getting my mind around the fact that people hire people do do their household chores. I know they still do, but I just can't envision it!
What I really think: I really liked this, but I am debating if it might be too young for middle school. The friend dynamics are a bit more elementary. Still, I might be able to get this one checked out because of the dog, but my 8th graders would definitely find it too young.
Ms. Yingling

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