book review, Children's Writing, Helen Frost, Skila Brown, To Stay Alive, Writing

To Stay Alive — Book Review

Thought for the Day:
“Don’t just plan to write – write. It is only by writing, not dreaming about it,
that we develop our own style.”
~ P. D. James ~

Gifts for My Writer Friends:
Janice Hardy always has something great to help us. The post HERE on Endings is no exception. 

Bobbi Miller wrote a wonderful post on the Teaching Authors blog HERE to remind us that Villains are People Too! 

If you are a pantser like me, you probably could use some help with plot. Margie Flinchum Atkins has a terrific post on plotting at the Group Blog. Check it out HERE

Sorry to have been gone so long. My husband’s illness has been most difficult. He spent 20 days in the hospital, then was moved to a skilled nursing facility for rehab, but it hasn’t gone really well. He has now been there 10 days, and I’m not sure when he will come home. He hasn’t really been able to eat, and that has delayed his recovery. He is quite weak and has, at last count, lost over 65 pounds since November when he started having problems. Between trips to the hospital and rehab facility — two or three a day — I managed to get a moving company to bring our furniture to our new house (2 Men and a Truck were incredible!) and am still bringing small loads each day and sorting and unpacking. Worst surprise — water damage behind the washer. Who ever looks back there unless you move, right? Ugh. Now I have to deal with the insurance company and start another construction project before I can sell the other house. The good news is I absolutely love our new house, and I get to see our daughter and grandchildren all the time. I think Dave will love it here when he comes home, hopefully this week. Fingers crossed!

When last I wrote, I promised a copy of Applesauce Weather by Helen Frost to one of you. (I think I actually know where it is!) The winner is Joanne Roberts. Congratulations, Joanne! If you don’t know her, she is a children’s illustrator and writer. You can find our more about her at her blog, Bookish Ambition, which you can find HERE. Joanne, I will get your book out to you soon. I won’t be having a giveaway this week for two reasons — I don’t want to give up my copy, and I have no idea when I might get to the post office.

I was contacted by a publicist not long ago about review copies of several books. I chose a book in verse called To Stay Alive by Skila Brown. One of my favorite books of recent years was All We Left Behind by Nancy Herman which I reviewed HERE. It’s a haunting historical novel about the Donner party, and the subject matter is difficult at best, but still fascinating. To Stay Alive is also a story of the Donner party. While All We Left Behind is the story of Virginia Reed, this book focuses on Mary Ann Graves, one of ten children of Franklin and Elizabeth Graves, a family who were part of the Donner party. It is Mary Ann’s voice who tells the story of her family’s journey with all the excitement, adventure, hardships, and, ultimately, pain and heartbreak she faces. She is brave, smart, and determined. Readers will cheer for her and suffer with her and hope with her even when all hope seems to be lost. 

I thought I would be able to whiz through this book as I often do with verse novels, but I was wrong. The poetry of this book is so rich and layered that it demands and deserves a slow, deliberate read. Sometimes when I read a novel in verse, I wonder what makes it verse and not just an interesting use of white space. I never wondered while reading this book. The writing is spectacular and

Skila Brown

lyrical, the story is powerful and heartbreaking, and the characters are well-rounded and engaging. I think this book will garner a very wide readership, from older, sophisticated middle-grade readers to adults and it deserves to. This book won’t be out until October, but it is worth your time to pre-order lest you forget and miss out on this one. At least put it on your TBR list right now! 


I hope I will be back here next week, but who knows? Sometimes life gets in the way. Thanks for being patient with me through my crazy life.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s