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West of the Moon

by Margi Preus

Published by Abrams, 2014
224 pages
ISBN: 978-1-4197-0896-1

Age 11 and older

A vivid, shining, artfully told story is set in nineteenth-century Norway, where thirteen-year-old,orphaned Astri is sold to a goat farmer by her aunt. Astri must cook and clean and care for the animals, all the while dodging the farmer’s harsh and eventually groping hand. The night the farmer locks her in the storehouse she discovers a mute girl inside spinning at a wheel. Spinning Girl’s identity is a mystery that Astri interprets through the many stories her mother used to tell her. The folktales have helped make her life bearable as she looks for the opportunity to escape. A breathless, terrifying effort to flee when the farmer is trying to haul her off to the village to marry him is complicated when Astri realizes she cannot leave Spinning Girl behind. Astri’s plan has been to return to her aunt’s and rescue her little sister, Greta, whom she knows her aunt will sell next, then find a boat heading to America. Astri is a girl of great strength, wit, and compassion, all of which she draws on as she devises new plans on the run. Soon all three girls are headed toward the coast on a journey that challenges Astri to rewrite her understanding of the past as she discovers new information that reveals the identity of the mysterious girl. An extraordinary novel about hope and courage, dreams and the power of story pays tribute to the pain and promise of the immigrant story—what was brought along and what was left behind—as it effortlessly blends historical fiction and fantasy.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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