Wolk, Lauren. My Own Lightning. Dutton, 2022. 978-0-525-55559-9. $17.99. 307 p. Grades 6-8.
This sequel to Lauren Wolk’s award-winning, Wolf Hollow, picks up at the close of that fateful school year. Annabelle McBride has survived classmate Betty’s bullying and the death of the traumatized World War I veteran Toby, but she still is trying to make sense of all the puzzle pieces that school year gave her and how she should view herself and her world. While helping the teacher clean the schoolhouse, she meets Mr. Graf, a man she perceives as charming and friendly, who is searching for his lost dog. On the way home, a storm kicks up and Annabelle is struck by lightning. An unknown person saves her life. Afterward, her senses seem heightened, and she feels an affinity to animals, especially dogs. Not only is Mr. Graf’s dog missing, but Annabelle’s brother, Henry, cannot find his dog, Buster, either; and neighbor, Andy (who was Betty’s accomplice in bullying Annabelle) has lost his dog as well. When Annabelle meets new neighbor, the dour Mr. Edelman, she thinks he is mean. Despite this scary first impression, when she hears barking from the Edelman property, she investigates and finds a secret animal rescue shelter. Neighbor Andy, Annabelle’s nemesis, has been sleeping in the family’s potato house to escape his abusive household. His past behavior overshadows the kindness he displays with the animals. All of these characters mix together for a sort of human mystery that Annabelle navigates that summer, both in pursuit of the lost dogs as well as a realization that people are not always what they appear. Though the lightning seemed to sharpen her perceptions, Annabelle has to figure out for herself who is sinister and who is truly kind. In the process, she learns not only about others, but also about herself.
THOUGHTS: The language in this book is delicious. The descriptions of the family suppers, the city of Pittsburgh, and the farmland are lush and rich with unique imagery. Wolk has the talent to create authentic characters; even the minor ones ring true. Sensitive readers will appreciate Annabelle’s struggle to detect who is an enemy and who is a friend and learn from her realizations that it is never a waste of time to look deeper into a person’s actions and behavior before judging them. Use this book for great examples of lush imagery.
Historical Fiction Bernadette Cooke, School District of Philadelphia