The Wiregrass

Young Adult

HISTORICAL/MYSTERY:  Young, but reluctantly on the verge of womanhood, Nettie does as she has done every summer of her life—she leaves the comfort of her mother and her town to visit her aunt in the charmingly southern town of Crystal Springs, Alabama. Hoping that she can grasp onto the vestiges of her childhood and the freedom of rabble-rousing with her cousins, Nettie looks towards the summer with great anticipation. Yet when she locks her gaze on a handsome but elusive young man named Mitchell, Nettie’s plans take a turn that she never anticipated, and her cousin’s fun soon takes a serious—very serious—turn.

Delightfully southern and quite charming in execution, author Pam Webber’s story is well thought-out, well-paced, and captures the heat and independence of youthful summers in the American South. The careful and thoughtful presentation of the main character, Nettie, is done with sensitivity and accuracy—the story reads as if Nettie’s voice is the true compass, rather than an artificial voice as conceived by the author. The author also captures the frustration, fear, and reluctance of beginning puberty, and the stresses of developing feelings for the opposite sex. Although there are some issues with the author’s use of language—for instance, she liberally uses colloquialisms and stylistic spellings—overall, the author’s voice is strong and works well in the novel as a whole. The gentle intrigue that is woven throughout the story keeps the pace alive and leaves readers wanting to turn the pages, and the beautiful illustrations at the chapter headers are also a unique feature that readers will appreciate. 

Mia Francis-Poulin