The Growing Rock by Susanna Lancaster

Rating: 4.5/5


Genre:  Upper Middle Grade/YA Historical Fiction


Recommended Age: 12+ (some slightly mature scenes, but nothing outrageous)


I was presented with a free copy of this book by the author in exchange for a review. This did not sway my decisions in any manner.


Papa is a good liar—he can tell a fib all the way from Ripley to Nashville to calm everyone down or make a situation seem better, including the Great Depression. But the day he promises fourteen-year-old Caroline that everything will be okay when he leaves the farm to find work elsewhere, she isn’t so sure. After all, her favorite brother George told her something similar not long ago. And no one has heard from him since. 

Caroline has to believe George will come back. Otherwise, she won’t have the strength to do her share of the work while looking after her sickly little sister Phoebe and telling her hopeful stories about the Growing Rock that magically grows every summer. But as time moves on, Caroline feels more and more discouraged. When tragedy occurs that threatens to break the large family apart even more, will Caroline give into the hopelessness that has consumed Mama?

The Growing Rock (Harvard Square Editions), by debut author Susanna Lancaster, depicts the Great Depression era in a fresh light with striking historical details and transports readers of today to the world of 1937. Intended for early Young Adult readers, the book explores complex family dynamics and significant cross-generational themes. –


When I was a little girl I was obsessed with anything Little House on the Prairie and anything from that time period or setting because it was such a great series for children to grow up with. I read everything I could about that region and then slowly grew out of that phase. I never realized how much I would enjoy revisiting a book that could very easily fit into my favorite childhood genre, even though they are definitely set in different time periods. And I never thought I’d read a book that would make me want to read Little Women so much. But this book did! Not only was it a wave of nostalgia for me, it was a very incredible book to read. The characters were developed so well without it feeling drawn out. The characters became very realistic in this book and you could feel their emotions with them, which makes it hard to hate any one of them for their faults. The plot was also very well developed and the story never lagged or dulled in any areas. The writing was excellent and it was a truly captivating story.


The only cause of concern I had was that the story does tend to skip around a bit with the timeline, making it a little confusing at first to orient yourself to the pacing. I also had a little trouble with the font at times in the flashback scenes, but nothing was illegible. I’m just not able to read fancy fonts sometimes. However, those are my only complaints about this wonderful book!


Verdict: Overall, I was amazed at how much I loved this book. It kept me engaged and it brought back moments of nostalgia. It was a quick, fun read that reminded us all that growing up isn’t easy, sometimes it can be very difficult at times, but that things do come full circle in the end. This very sweet story would be perfect as a light read for any upper middle grade or YA reader or even an adult. Make sure to purchase this book when it comes out December 12, 2017!


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