STARRED REVIEW
February 2018

A prickly preteen comes of age

By April Stevens
Review by

Eleven-year-old Frances has taken to calling herself “Figgrotten.” A “natural observer” whose hero is anthropologist Margaret Mead, Figgrotten feels most herself when she’s all alone, perched high atop the rocks behind her house, conducting an experiment that requires feeding crows.

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Eleven-year-old Frances has taken to calling herself “Figgrotten.” A “natural observer” whose hero is anthropologist Margaret Mead, Figgrotten feels most herself when she’s all alone, perched high atop the rocks behind her house, conducting an experiment that requires feeding crows.

After a hurtful, hateful disagreement, Figgrotten vows to never again speak to her fashionable, popular sister, Christinia, who is mortified by her sister’s oddball ways, her unkempt hair and her too-small coat.

Figgrotten’s world collapses when her 83-year-old bus driver dies. Alvin Turkson was her Shakespeare-loving, Gandhi-quoting best friend. Adding to Figgrotten’s misery is the new kid in class, a shy, smart boy named James who seems to be favored by Figgrotten’s beloved teacher Mr. Stanley. Figgrotten eventually learns to navigate this tricky terrain, to deal with her grief, to make peace with her sister and James, and to even find a new friend. She discovers that she “could hang on to who she was and still be part of the world, which she could now feel tugging at her.”

Author April Stevens’ carefully crafted, beautiful prose imbues this tightly plotted, engrossing tale with weighty themes that never feel heavy-handed or preachy. The Heart and Mind of Frances Pauley sings out heartfelt truths about Stevens’ quirky and genuine characters, who will resonate deeply with lucky readers.

 

This article was originally published in the February 2018 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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The Heart and Mind of Frances Pauley

The Heart and Mind of Frances Pauley

By April Stevens
Schwartz & Wade
ISBN 9781524720612

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