Friday, January 24, 2014

Double review: Eva of the Farm & After the River the Sun

Eva of the Farm
By Dia Calhoun
Published 2012 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Eva loves her farm but she is worried. They've had a couple of hard seasons and it seems like the bank is going to take the farm away from her family. And then her baby brother gets sick - very sick. Eva will try anything to save her family's farm.

After the River the Sun
By Dia Calhoun
Published 2013 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers

After a devastating accident, Eckhart is sent to live with his distant uncle on his orchard. Eckhart does not love the outdoors and he has no interest in helping his uncle, particularly when his uncle doesn't seem to like him very much. But, one day, Eckhart meets a creative and daring girl and he begins to see the quest before him.

I have professed my love for novels in verse on this blog before and, occasionally, I will binge on them, unable to resist their siren song any longer. Such was the case this past fall - a number of novels in verse had been released over the summer and I could no longer deny myself the joy of reading them. So, I snatched these two up and read them straight through.

Billed as companion novels, they can indeed be read individually, though one might have a very different reading of Eva if they had read After the River first. I thoroughly enjoyed both books, but After the River is the more memorable for me. I liked the surliness of Eckhart - it is easy to understand where it comes from, but I think it makes his journey through the book more memorable. Strangely, I liked reading about Eva from a distance more than I liked reading her own voice. As I said, I enjoyed them both, but I found Eva more of an interesting secondary character than narrator. I felt the theme of After the River was, at times, laid on a bit too think, but perhaps that is part of what made it the more memorable book.

I'm not sure if there is a huge audience of middle-grade readers who, like me, adore the verse novel; I certainly hope so. I think these definitely have appeal to readers looking for contemplative reads with a good sense of place.

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