Book Review: One Came Home
By Amy Timberlake
A Newbery Honor Book
An ALA-ALSC Notable Children’s Book
Winner of the Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Juvenile Novel
In the town of Placid, Wisconsin, in 1871, Georgie Burkhardt is known for two things: her uncanny aim with a rifle and her habit of speaking her mind plainly.
But when Georgie blurts out something she shouldn’t, her older sister Agatha flees, running off with a pack of “pigeoners” trailing the passenger pigeon migration. And when the sheriff returns to town with an unidentifiable body—wearing Agatha’s blue-green ball gown—everyone assumes the worst. Except Georgie. Refusing to believe the facts that are laid down (and coffined) before her, Georgie sets out on a journey to find her sister. She will track every last clue and shred of evidence to bring Agatha home. Yet even with resolute determination and her trusty Springfield single-shot, Georgie is not prepared for what she faces on the western frontier.
(Courtesy of goodreads.com)
Adult Point of View
Whenever I don’t love a book and it is acclaimed by so many others I have to question and analyze my reasons more deeply.
1) I did not like the short sentence structure. It was like reading in hiccups. There are too many pauses. It was disjointed. No Flow. Lost.
2) I didn’t love the characters. Georgie is obstinate, which can be endearing, but she is also just plain cranky. I don’t like being around people who are always gunnin’ for a fight. She is also grieving for her sister and trying to figure out her own place in the family. Georgie is a rounded character, I just didn’t enjoy her. It also didn’t make sense to me that she would give up shooting her gun.
Agatha is also not my favorite because she is so selfish. Not only does she run away, knowing her family will be worried, but she makes no effort to contact them until she sees the newspaper article about Georgie. Agatha also showed no definite preference for her two boyfriends and I was left wondering if she was planning to marry the hotel owner because he was rich.
3) I didn’t love the setting. The pigeons were minimally interesting for an adult to read, but I doubt a child would be enthralled.
When I compare One Came Home to a book, which also was an award contender, like The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner I don’t understand the reasons behind the award. One Came Home lacks the rich background, language and complex characters and ideas I like to see in award winning books.