Words. "A new word.
Bright with possibilities. A flawless pearl to turn over and over
in my hand, then put away for safekeeping." That's the way Mattie
feels about words. Each day she looks in the dictionary to find a
new word. A new friend. She reads everything she can get her
hands on. And she writes too. She writes incredible stories.
But, life for a farm girl in 1906 revolves around cooking, cleaning, taking
care of the family and working with the animals. And, after her mother
dies and her brother runs off, it is left to Mattie to take on their roles
as well. Even though writing is her passion, farming is her reality.
With the help of her extraordinary teacher, Mattie is accepted to study
at Barnard College. Even as she secretly plans to attend, her reality
is plotting against her. And then there's the young woman dead in
life in 1906 rural America is very difficult. She’s a hardworking intelligent
girl who must decide between college and marriage at a time when few people
complete high school. All the while, Mattie suspects that a young girl,
Grace, has been murdered. Mattie may have the evidence. Does Mattie honor
Grace’s last wish, or come forward? Facts from the infamous murder case,
including Grace Brown’s letters, are used in the book based on an actual
event. (Jean B. Bellavance for Pennsylvania
Young Reader's Choice Awards, 2005-2006)