This Girl Climbs Trees
In this meandering, nonlinear coming-of-age story, 13-year-old Maclyn "Eliza" Mills reflects on what it's like to grow up in the late 1970s. The narrative skips around over the course of several years, as Eliza ruminates on the death of her grandfather, the cutting down of her favorite tree, and her friendship with Paisley Park, a socially conscious animal rights activist. Along the way, she also contemplates her future, not quite ready to fall in love or figure out what she wants to be when she grows up. As a semi-autobiographical narrative with literary leanings, it's perfectly adequate. As a work of fiction, however, it lacks direction, a cohesive story, or a sense of momentum. The narrative voice is inconsistent, vacillating between believable ("How's a girl like me to grow roots when the soil of life is so crumbly?") and too mature ("Things change every moment, like a fallen leaf traveling down a mountain stream, pitched over stones, diverted into rivulets, direction unknown"). An interesting experiment in storytelling that seems unlikely to capture its audience's attention. Ages: 11–up.