Ever been in a “tight spot”? Eleven-year-old Kammie Summers is literally in a tight spot when she falls into an abandoned well. As daylight fades, Kammie, her arms pinned against her body, can’t even wipe away her tears. Meanwhile, her three new “friends,” popular girls who got her into this jam as as part of a club initiation, take off. But they’ll be back to get her out.
Kammie desperately hopes so, and I did, too, as I read The Girl in the Well is Me, the new middle grade novel by Canadian author Karen Rivers. I was mesmerized as Kammie, trapped and alone, revisits both the good and bad things that have happened in her life: her father’s imprisonment for embezzling funds from a charity; an elderly neighbor’s friendship; her mother’s struggles to earn a living; and her own efforts, after the family moves, to fit into a new town and different school. But help is on the way.
As her oxygen supply dwindles, Kammie hallucinates about spiders and zombies in the well, while a silvery, French-speaking coyote shows up to keep her company. But rescue is coming.
Rivers’ book reminds me of a one-act stage play. The scenery barely changes, yet the plight and voice and heart of the main character keeps the reader spellbound.
Getting out of the well is Kammie’s biggest problem, of course, but it isn’t her only one. If she survives, she’s got to find a way to go on, not with the life she wishes she had, but the one she’s been given. And no matter what happens with the popular girls and her father or anything else, she’s got to stay true to herself.
I couldn’t wait to find out what happened to Kammie, and you won’t be able to, either. Her dilemma is one we all face, at some point in our lives. Once you finally climb out of the darkness, how do you live in the light?
I highly recommend The Girl in the Well is Me, which has been named a Top 10 Spring 2016 Kids’ Indie Next Pick. It’s also earned a starred review from Kirkus Reviews.
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