Review of Those Kids from Fawn Creek

Those Kids from Fawn Creek Those Kids from Fawn Creek
by Erin Entrada Kelly
Middle School    Greenwillow    336 pp.    g
3/22    978-0-06-297035-0    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-0-06-297037-4    $10.99

Fawn Creek, Louisiana, is such a small town that there are only twelve students in seventh grade. Even with such a limited pool, however, the kids manage to create discrete cohorts. The mean girls, the jocks, the goody-goodies, and the misfits have all known one another forever and are locked into their roles. All these dynamics are shaken up, however, with the arrival of Orchid. Orchid is beautiful, a bit off-kilter, and fascinating. She has lived in New York City, Paris, and Thailand. Or has she? As she interacts with her fellow students, they begin to notice inconsistencies and improbabilities in her story. What they are slower to notice is that in her combination of naiveté and sophistication, Orchid is acting as a subtle and effective catalyst for openness, honesty, and kindness. Kelly (Newbery winner for Hello, Universe, rev. 3/17; and honoree for We Dream of Space, rev. 5/20) does a brilliant job here with an ensemble cast. We are most often inside the heads of class misfits Dorothy and Greyson, but we take detours to visit other characters, with their fears and secrets. Carefully constructed protective public shields fall away as the various characters pop into fully realized three dimensions and realign themselves with family and friends. Orchid is the Stargirl of this generation, a borderline magical character who appears in town and effects startling change. The novel’s hopeful denouement is entirely earned.

From the March/April 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Sarah Ellis
Sarah Ellis is a Vancouver-based writer and critic, recently retired from the faculty of The Vermont College of Fine Arts.

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