cover image Anybody Shining

Anybody Shining

Frances O’Roark Dowell. S&S/Atheneum, $16.99 (240p) ISBN 978-1-4424-3292-5

Twelve-year-old Arie Mae Sparks is imaginative and full of energy—qualities that often translate to “awful strange” in her small mountain town in 1920s North Carolina. With the aim of cheering up her mother and making a much-needed friend, Arie Mae begins writing letters to a cousin she’s never met, the daughter of an estranged aunt. Her letters go unanswered, but in the meantime, Arie Mae meets a visiting boy named Tom. “Cousin Caroline, have you ever seen anyone who shined?” writes Arie Mae. “Well, this boy did. Even though he walked with a limp and was a little bit sideways, he was shining.” The two traipse through the woods, which are supposedly haunted by “haints,” but Tom’s heart condition could mean the loss of Arie Mae’s only friend. Arie Mae’s openheartedness and yearning for connection make for a deeply poignant story, one with a richly realized setting and cast. As Arie Mae begins to see her life in a new light, Dowell (The Second Life of Abigail Walker) examines the clash between city and country life and what true wealth really means. Ages 10–12. (Aug.)