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Wild Blues

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The threat of two escaped convicts and a missing friend lead Lizzie on a harrowing journey through the wilds of the Adirondacks in this stunning novel from National Book Award finalist Beth Kephart. Thirteen-year-old Lizzie’s favorite place in the world is her uncle’s cabin. Uncle Davy’s renovated schoolhouse cabin, filled with antiques and on the edge of the Adirondacks, d The threat of two escaped convicts and a missing friend lead Lizzie on a harrowing journey through the wilds of the Adirondacks in this stunning novel from National Book Award finalist Beth Kephart. Thirteen-year-old Lizzie’s favorite place in the world is her uncle’s cabin. Uncle Davy’s renovated schoolhouse cabin, filled with antiques and on the edge of the Adirondacks, disconnected from the rest of the world, is like something out of a fairy tale. And an escape from reality is exactly what Lizzie needs. Life hasn’t been easy for Lizzie lately. Her father abandoned their family, leaving Lizzie with her oftentimes irresponsible mother. Now, her mom has cancer and being unable to care for Lizzie during her chemotherapy, Mom asks her where she’d like to spend the summer. The answer is simple: Uncle Davy’s cabin. Lizzie loves her uncle’s home for many reasons, but the main one is Matias, Uncle Davy’s neighbor and Lizzie’s best friend. Matias has proportionate dwarfism, but that doesn’t stop him and Lizzie from wandering in the woods. Every day they go to their favorite nook where Matias paints with watercolors and Lizzie writes. Until one day when Matias never arrives. When news breaks about two escaped convicts from the nearby prison, Lizzie fears the worst. And when Uncle Davy goes missing, too, Lizzie knows she’s the only one who knows this area of woods well enough to save them. Armed with her trusted Keppy survival book, Lizzie sets out into the wilds of the Adirondacks, proving just how far she’ll go to save the people she loves.


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The threat of two escaped convicts and a missing friend lead Lizzie on a harrowing journey through the wilds of the Adirondacks in this stunning novel from National Book Award finalist Beth Kephart. Thirteen-year-old Lizzie’s favorite place in the world is her uncle’s cabin. Uncle Davy’s renovated schoolhouse cabin, filled with antiques and on the edge of the Adirondacks, d The threat of two escaped convicts and a missing friend lead Lizzie on a harrowing journey through the wilds of the Adirondacks in this stunning novel from National Book Award finalist Beth Kephart. Thirteen-year-old Lizzie’s favorite place in the world is her uncle’s cabin. Uncle Davy’s renovated schoolhouse cabin, filled with antiques and on the edge of the Adirondacks, disconnected from the rest of the world, is like something out of a fairy tale. And an escape from reality is exactly what Lizzie needs. Life hasn’t been easy for Lizzie lately. Her father abandoned their family, leaving Lizzie with her oftentimes irresponsible mother. Now, her mom has cancer and being unable to care for Lizzie during her chemotherapy, Mom asks her where she’d like to spend the summer. The answer is simple: Uncle Davy’s cabin. Lizzie loves her uncle’s home for many reasons, but the main one is Matias, Uncle Davy’s neighbor and Lizzie’s best friend. Matias has proportionate dwarfism, but that doesn’t stop him and Lizzie from wandering in the woods. Every day they go to their favorite nook where Matias paints with watercolors and Lizzie writes. Until one day when Matias never arrives. When news breaks about two escaped convicts from the nearby prison, Lizzie fears the worst. And when Uncle Davy goes missing, too, Lizzie knows she’s the only one who knows this area of woods well enough to save them. Armed with her trusted Keppy survival book, Lizzie sets out into the wilds of the Adirondacks, proving just how far she’ll go to save the people she loves.

30 review for Wild Blues

  1. 5 out of 5

    Scarlett Readz and Runz....Through Novel Time & Distance

    The Adirondack Park, a protected park in the U.S. state of New York, is absolutely gorgeous. A great area to view the fall colors, go hiking, explore caves, enjoy rivers and streams as well as the abundance of wildlife. It is also a place you don’t want to get lost! Lizzie favorite place to be is at her Uncle Davy’s cabin on the outskirts of the Adirondack Mountains. Nestled in and secluded, this is where she will spend her summer. Away from home, away from her mother who has cancer, away from he The Adirondack Park, a protected park in the U.S. state of New York, is absolutely gorgeous. A great area to view the fall colors, go hiking, explore caves, enjoy rivers and streams as well as the abundance of wildlife. It is also a place you don’t want to get lost! Lizzie favorite place to be is at her Uncle Davy’s cabin on the outskirts of the Adirondack Mountains. Nestled in and secluded, this is where she will spend her summer. Away from home, away from her mother who has cancer, away from her father who left them. Only her uncle, her best friend Matias, her writing and reading. Nothing stands in the way of a great summer to forget her troubles. Every day Lizzie and Matias head out to their favorite spot in the woods to paint and pass the time. Matias has proportionate dwarfism and is from San Salvador. Despite his crutches, he gets along well and lets nothing stand in his way. He spends lots of times talking to Lizzie about his country and brings pupusas to share. A traditional Salvadoran dish of a thick corn tortilla stuffed with a savory filling. One morning, Matias does not show. Confused she searches for him without any luck. As she tries to get back to her uncle, she notices that he is missing as well. There is but one thing she must do now…be brave and find her friend who won’t be able to get around well in the woods in his condition. *** This is a lovely read. Very lyrical and poetic in structure and style. Lizzie’s thoughts, fears and wonders of the world are expressed amazingly deep. She has so much to process and understand about her parents and the different world her friend comes from. The reader is taken on her journey of growth and understanding, a way of a coming of age. I did like the description of the beautiful surroundings that this takes place in. I am not sure if a middle grader can perhaps appreciate or enjoy the prose and depth of Lizzie's thought process this well yet. For that, I think, it would definitely make a great literary read as a class project to learn of San Salvador, the Adirondacks Mountains and explore about dwarfism and difficult family dynamics. I received a digital copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange of an honest review. All opinions are my own. Thank you. For more reviews visit: https://scarlettreadzandrunz.com/

  2. 4 out of 5

    Alyson Hagy

    A truly remarkable novel for middle grade readers. Lush with compelling characters, a gorgeous Adirondack setting, and a riveting plot, Wild Blues whirls you into a world of peril and friendship that you won’t soon forget. Beth Kephart is one of the most original, imaginative writers we have. Wow.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Katie Fitzgerald

    Lizzie's mom has to undergo cancer treatment, so she asks Lizzie where she would like to spend her summer. Lizzie chooses to go to her uncle Davy's renovated schoolhouse home in the Adirondacks, near where her good friend Matias, an immigrant from El Salvador who has proportionate dwarfism also lives. Not long after Lizzie arrives, however, two dangerous convicts escape from the prison, kidnapping both Matias and Uncle Davy and leaving Lizzie entirely on her own. Determined not to lose the peopl Lizzie's mom has to undergo cancer treatment, so she asks Lizzie where she would like to spend her summer. Lizzie chooses to go to her uncle Davy's renovated schoolhouse home in the Adirondacks, near where her good friend Matias, an immigrant from El Salvador who has proportionate dwarfism also lives. Not long after Lizzie arrives, however, two dangerous convicts escape from the prison, kidnapping both Matias and Uncle Davy and leaving Lizzie entirely on her own. Determined not to lose the people she loves most in the world, Lizzie sets out to bring them home, not realizing how dangerous this plan really is. This middle grade novel is told in the form of a victim impact statement given by Lizzie to a listener whose identity is unknown to the reader for much of the book. This, combined with the suspense of the kidnapping and rescue mission, would make for compelling reading all on its own. But, as with Kephart's 2016 young adult novel, This is the Story of You, it is the gorgeous writing style that makes this book truly stand out as original and beautiful. Many middle grade books seem to have a singular generic voice, which can make it hard to differentiate one story from another. This one, however, is not just a memorable story, but a distinctive piece of writing. What Kephart has to say becomes more meaningful because of the way she says it. This book is filled with moments where the author employs just the right detail in just the right way at just the right time for maximum emotional impact. I was genuinely surprised several times when I suddenly felt like crying over some turn of phrase or turn of events in the story. It's been a while since a book got a true reaction out of me like that. Content-wise, I think this book is probably more appropriate for middle school readers than elementary school readers. The writing is a bit flowery, making it more complex to read, and the idea of escaped convicts is more likely to trouble a third grader than an eighth grader. (Incidentally, there was a prison break in my hometown when I was a kid, so this book was extra interesting to me!) There are also some mentions of Uncle Davy's past relationship with a man whom he loved. Lizzie refers to him as a friend, however, and it would be easy for kids with no other context not to think there was anything more to the connection than friendship. The point is really just to show the vulnerable side of Uncle Davy and that he has experienced a loss, not to dwell on any adult themes. The ARC of this book did not include the final full-color paintings which serve as the book's illustrations, but the preview images shown on Edelweiss are beautiful, and they do much to enhance the mood of the book. Art plays a major role in the stories of both Matias and one of his captors, and having Matias's paintings represented in the book adds a lot to the reader's knowledge of his character. . The fact that the illustrator is the author's husband, who is himself Salvadoran, is also a nice touch. I would put Wild Blues in a category along with Lauren Wolk's books - that is, literary fiction for the middle school reader who likes description and action, strong character development and meandering reflections about life. It's certainly not going to resonate with every child, but there are definitely readers out there for whom this special book will be an instant and enduring favorite. It certainly is for me. This review also appears on my blog, Read-at-Home Mom.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    Amazing writing and pure storytelling, as expected from BK. A story of friendship and persistence.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

    *I received an e-gally from Netgalley in return for an honest review.* So...it kind of leaves you at that. Lizzie is spending the summer with her uncle at his renovated schoolhouse in the woods while her mother takes radiation pills for her cancer. She is excited to hang out with her uncle and her summer best friend Matias. Story alternates in time periods from the previous summer, to the current summer, to where Lizzie is now...which you figure out as the story goes along. The ending leaves you.. *I received an e-gally from Netgalley in return for an honest review.* So...it kind of leaves you at that. Lizzie is spending the summer with her uncle at his renovated schoolhouse in the woods while her mother takes radiation pills for her cancer. She is excited to hang out with her uncle and her summer best friend Matias. Story alternates in time periods from the previous summer, to the current summer, to where Lizzie is now...which you figure out as the story goes along. The ending leaves you...wondering, hanging, dissatisfied? Something, like you still are trying to put together what happened I guess.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    Oh beautiful and sigh. Kephart is one of my favorite authors and this book was pitch perfect lovely. Poetic and graceful and full of heart, a story about a girl who goes to great lengths to save the people she loves. I will say the ending felt a little easy, but it didn't wreck the book for me. I love how Kephart weaves language through her plot, how there are echoes of things, of words, of sounds. She really is a terribly gifted artist.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Debbie Tanner

    This is a complicated story about a girl named Lizzie who is spending her summer with her uncle in a remote cabin. She loves spending time with him and hiking in the 6 million acre woods behind his house. She also has a best fried, Matias, who is an artist and she's looking forward to spending time with him. There are some big issues here-dealing with a serious illness, mental illness, friendship, bravery, and courage. I found it compelling, but maybe overly complicated-the story flashes around This is a complicated story about a girl named Lizzie who is spending her summer with her uncle in a remote cabin. She loves spending time with him and hiking in the 6 million acre woods behind his house. She also has a best fried, Matias, who is an artist and she's looking forward to spending time with him. There are some big issues here-dealing with a serious illness, mental illness, friendship, bravery, and courage. I found it compelling, but maybe overly complicated-the story flashes around in time and part of the time Lizzie is talking to a character that you don't really get who it is until probably the last 10% of the book. I liked it well enough to finish it but I'm not sure I would recommend it to kids.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Laura Phelps

    Gorgeously written, with a slow building tension that reaches a crescendo in the wilds of the Adirondacks. It’s interesting that there are two prison break books already this year - this one is a little more complex than Kate Messner’s Breakout and it is truly stunning the way Kephart uses language to describe both place and emotion. I absolutely love the way Lizzie tells her story to an unknown person in the form of a victim impact statement; trying to figure out who that person is gives this a Gorgeously written, with a slow building tension that reaches a crescendo in the wilds of the Adirondacks. It’s interesting that there are two prison break books already this year - this one is a little more complex than Kate Messner’s Breakout and it is truly stunning the way Kephart uses language to describe both place and emotion. I absolutely love the way Lizzie tells her story to an unknown person in the form of a victim impact statement; trying to figure out who that person is gives this an element of mystery and intrigue that is unusual and memorable.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ms. Yingling

    E ARC from Edelweiss Plus Very lyrical and a bit quirky. Did not fit the needs of my collection at this time.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Vicki

    Wild Blues are the first blues (sky) of the day. Beth Kephart's stories have never been told anywhere else. So unique, so lyrical, so emotional. Two best friends: Mathias; he's from El Salvador and he has dwarfism, but doesn't sulk about it and it a talented, devoted water-colorist too. He is a very loyal friend to Lizzie. Lizzie knows how to be a loyal, cherished friend right back and she loves biology and asks a ton of questions of Mr. Genzler, her science teacher. The story is set in the Adiro Wild Blues are the first blues (sky) of the day. Beth Kephart's stories have never been told anywhere else. So unique, so lyrical, so emotional. Two best friends: Mathias; he's from El Salvador and he has dwarfism, but doesn't sulk about it and it a talented, devoted water-colorist too. He is a very loyal friend to Lizzie. Lizzie knows how to be a loyal, cherished friend right back and she loves biology and asks a ton of questions of Mr. Genzler, her science teacher. The story is set in the Adirondacks, in a remote cabin, where Uncle Davy lives, and where Mathias spends his summers. Uncle Davy is a collector, who is famous, and who is currently estranged from Lizzie's mom. Her Mother is dealing with a certain cancer treatment, which makes it necessary for Lizzie to choose where she would like to spend the summer. She chooses to spend it with Uncle Davy and nearby Mathias and his family, the Bondanzas's. Did I mention there is a prison down in the valley, and in this particular summer there is a prison break. Again, I have to come back to Beth Kephart and say she is a wonderful storyteller. To paraphrase a Van Morrison song, she articulates, 'the inarticulate speech of the heart."

  11. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    I love this author’s use of language and the way she creates characters. Adventure, bravery, friendship, grief... There’s a prison break and cancer and wilderness survival and it all comes together brilliantly in this well-told story. (It took me a while to determine to whom the main character was telling her story. I liked that bit of unknown.)

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ann Williams

    Intense and moving, I remember very clearly the true events that inspired the main problem in this story. Great for point of view and tracking characters. I would love to see a student read this with a parent as it can be a bit scary for incoming fourth graders.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Julie Williams

  14. 5 out of 5

    Amy C.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Nicole Valentine

  16. 4 out of 5

    J.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Mary Lee

  18. 4 out of 5

    Özlem

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mompop

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mrs. Van

  22. 5 out of 5

    Glenda

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jane

  24. 4 out of 5

    Emily

  25. 4 out of 5

    Linda

  26. 5 out of 5

    Karyn

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

  28. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Snow

  29. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

  30. 4 out of 5

    Astroknott29

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