Synopses & Reviews
Polly Greene has always been considered strange, a girl who can see a person's true colors, a thirteen-year-old more comfortable foraging in the woods with her eccentric grandmother than hanging out with friends. But all that is about to change when Polly's older sister, Bree, vanishes into the woods. The only one who believes Bree can survive, Polly begins to leave food in the woods for her sister and finds a hidden grove she names Girlwood, where she believes Bree is burning a fire each night. Along with an odd but endearing group of friends, Polly clings to the hope that she can see her sister through the harsh, snowy winter. And, in the process, she discovers the cruelty, bounty, and magic of the woods. Will Polly save her sister? And even if she does, will Girlwood survive?
"Dean's first YA novel feels of-the-moment with its hopeful environmentalist message. At its start, Polly, the earthy, wistful 12-year-old protagonist, wakes up to find her teenage sister, wild child Bree, missing. The search goes on in the background as Polly and her friends fight to keep the bulldozers away from her beloved forest, a magical place where Bree could be hiding. Each chapter opens with a description of a medicinal and edible plant that Polly and her wise grandmother find in those woods. This premise sometimes bogs down with mentions of Bree's clichd problems. But mostly Dean succeeds in creating a fast-paced story and sympathetic characters that eco-minded readers will appreciate. In their deep woods hideout, called Girlwood, Polly and pals uncover secrets about themselves and their world. 'The forest could have been Fairyland... the dawn sky like a field of tulips, the new snow twinkling pink, green, and blue, as if even the ground they walked on was enchanted,' Dean writes in a typically lush passage. The best wrought element of the book, though, may not be in the forest at all it might be the satisfying ending. Ages 12 up." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[An] intriguing first novel....Dean's celebration of the earthy, living magic...will lure YAs, who may be especially fascinated by the deepened experience of the world Polly gleans from her ability to glimpse others auras." Booklist
About the Author
Claire Dean writes from a bright green house behind an ever-growing garden in Idaho. She was inspired to write Girlwood for her daughter, who asked for a story about good stuff. "When I asked her what that meant, she said, 'You know, about hope and magic and fairies and girls.' Good stuff, indeed." Next up is a story for the author's son. To learn more about Girlwood and to find out what color aura you have, visit Claire Dean at www.clairedean.net.