I’m crazy for books with an agricultural setting / theme / issue. You can take the girl out of the farm, but you can’t take the farm out of the girl, I guess. So Joan Bauer’s newest book, Peeled, set in an apple-farming community, was a”peel”ing to me from the get go (first and last bad apple-related pun, I swear).
Confession… the only other Joan Bauer title I’ve read is Backwater which I enjoyed immensely. After reading Peeled, I’ve since moved Hope was Here and Bauer’s other books high up on the TBR list. Peeled is the story of Hildy Biddle, whose family runs a small apple farm in New York state. When she isn’t helping out in the family business, Hildy is a reporter for her school newspaper, The Core, and journalism comes naturally to her. She’s eager to report the truth, so when ghostly happenings at the old Ludlow place leads the local newspaper to some sketchy reporting, Hildy grabs her chance to get to the bottom of things.
What I love about this book:
1. The layers. I like a book that has several well-developed plot threads that interplay with each other in interesting ways and work together to create the major themes of the text. Bauer seems to be a master at this. There is just enough going on in the plot and sub-plots that you’re curious about all of the elements of the narrative without losing track of what’s happening where and to whom.
2. The main character. Hildy is feisty, in a way that is not in-your-face. She finds the courage to act in difficult situations because she knows what is important to her and she can’t stand by and just let the things that bother her happen. I liked her. Completely. I liked how she grew in a way that was believable. If she was a real teen, I’d be keeping my eye on her to track the awesome things she’d be doing down the road.
3. The descriptions of the bounty of apple goodies: Nan’s applesauce, apple cake, apple brownies, apple chutney, apple syrup, apple bread, apple cider… apple EVERYTHING! Perhaps it’s the former pasty chef in me that cannot resist a story that shows a healthy appreciation for homemade treats. Which leads to my Tiny Quibble: Peeled is calling out for a recipe, or two, at the back. If not in this story, then when?
Read this story in October, in apple season, or anytime you want to think about the media’s fear-mongering powers and what good journalism looks like. A crisp, tangy, satisfying treat of a book. (*Crunch*)
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