The Wild Path

Sarah R. Baughman. Little, Brown, $16.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-316-42247-5
Sensitive 12-year-old Claire desperately misses her 18-year-old brother, Andy, who is in rehab to treat his addition to pain medication. Following her mother’s job loss and the expenses from her brother’s treatment, Claire is also determined to find a way for her family to keep their two beloved horses, and she sees winning the prize money from her school history fair as a way to save them. When she finds an old clipping about an accident involving horses and her family’s Vermont farm, she connects it to the horses in the woods that only she can see. Baughman (The Light in the Lake) effectively portrays Claire’s facility with and affection for her family’s horses, but a fantastical subplot involving ghostly animals feels extraneous, distracting from the otherwise powerful narrative. In addition, a few metaphors, particularly the birds used to express Claire’s anxieties (“The sparrows swirl and tumble and bump into one another as they fly”), feel repetitive. Claire’s feelings, however, are authentically portrayed, and Baughman’s novel offers a sensitive look at the ripple effects of addiction. Ages 8–12. Agent: Katie Grimm, Don Congdon Associates. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 10/15/2020
Release date: 09/01/2020
Genre: Children's
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