ON SNOWDEN MOUNTAIN, by Jeri Watts, Candlewick Press


Twelve-year-old Ellen learns the quiet strength of family when her mother’s deep depression prompts her to ask an estranged aunt for help.

Ellen’s mother has struggled with depression before, but not like this. With her father away fighting in World War II and her mother unable to care for them, Ellen’s only option is to reach out to her cold, distant aunt Pearl. Soon enough, city-dwelling Ellen and her mother are shepherded off to the countryside to Aunt Pearl’s home, a tidy white cottage at the base of Snowden Mountain. Adjusting to life in a small town is no easy thing: the school has one room, one of her classmates smells of skunks, and members of the community seem to whisper about Ellen’s family. But even as she worries that depression is a family curse to which she’ll inevitably succumb, Ellen slowly begins to carve out a space for herself and her mother on Snowden Mountain in this thoughtful, heartfelt middle-grade novel from Jeri Watts.

Out September 2019

208 Pages Approx.


I received this book in exchange for my honest review.

Candlewick was so very kind to send me a lovely bookmark to add to my collection, so my heartfelt thank you to them for thinking of me and my collection! Fabulous fun.

This is a middle-grade novel that addresses topics such as fitting in, depression, relationship breakdowns, moving to a different way of life, alcoholism, abuse, abandonment, finding strength, and making new friends. This book could help immensely if introduced at any shelter or clinic that deals with any of these issues, especially the children of adults affected by one or more of the above issues.

Ellen is a brilliant character, developed using conflict to help her grow and reach her goals.  She begins low on the emotional factor, having to deal with abandonment by her father who chooses to go off to war (WWII) rather than face his responsibilities, and consequently a mother who gives up and swims in the pools of depression refusing to care for Ellen. When Ellen reaches out to her mother’s estranged aunt, she is forced to deal with her decisions which in turn, causes her to self-doubt and worry she may end up like her mom. She faces adjustment to a simpler way of life that has no electricity and indoor plumbing included. She goes to a one-room school and in the beginning hates an older boy who smells like skunk and a teacher disinterested in teaching.

Ellen is complicated and layered. She frets and worries, pushes people away and ends up friends with an unlikely kid. Her growth involves Ellen’s maturing and accepting she can’t change what’s not within her ability to do so. The setting is perfect for the success of the plot. It provides a constant source of tension and aid to propel Ellen further along the story. Ellen is flawed in the beginning and expresses her dissatisfaction with her family by snubbing them; this flaw changes as the book progresses causing her to mature and become more understanding, accepting and to grow up.

I love this book and plan on adding it to my library.

I gave it:



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