Those Kids from Fawn Creek

Greenwillow/HarperCollins/. Mar. 2022. 336p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062970350.
Gr 4-7–Fawn Creek, LA, isn’t the kind of town where much changes, so the seventh grade students are instantly intrigued when Orchid arrives. There’s Greyson, whose interest in style makes him feel misplaced in his own family; Dorothy, who has taken to hiding behind her hair; and Janie, clinging to her ringleader best friend, Renni. Not only does Orchid have stories of living all over the world, she barely notices the small, divisive cliques that make up her new class. Her classmates begin to see possibilities that they never dreamed of, but not everyone is happy about the change. As secrets unravel and the community dance gets closer, the students start to see that maybe a shake-up is just what they need. This story features an ensemble cast, with each character’s backstory revealed slowly. Fawn Creek itself also feels alive; readers will feel like they’re breathing in the humid air and traipsing down familiar trails with the characters. Kelly shakes up the idealized small-town story trope by showing the realities of life in a small, poor town, and the limitations the characters face as they worry that they might never see what else the world has to offer. The premise of this novel has similarities to Jerry Spinelli’s Stargirl, but Orchid and Fawn Creek may feel more authentic to readers.
VERDICT While the plot itself is nothing flashy, this is a well-told, relatable novel about misfits and outsiders that will ring true with middle grade readers.

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