Newbery Review: One Came Home

When Georgie's sister Agatha disappears, everyone thinks Agatha has died. Everyone except Georgie. | A book review by Newbery and Beyond

In the town of Placid, Wisconsin, in 1871, Georgie Burkhardt is known for two things: her uncanny aim with a rifle and her habit of speaking her mind plainly.

But when Georgie blurts out something she shouldn’t, her older sister Agatha flees, running off with a pack of “pigeoners” trailing the passenger pigeon migration. And when the sheriff returns to town with an unidentifiable body—wearing Agatha’s blue-green ball gown—everyone assumes the worst. Except Georgie. Refusing to believe the facts that are laid down (and coffined) before her, Georgie sets out on a journey to find her sister. She will track every last clue and shred of evidence to bring Agatha home. Yet even with resolute determination and her trusty Springfield single-shot, Georgie is not prepared for what she faces on the western frontier.

(Summary via Amazon)

This book won a Newbery honor last year, so I was really excited to read it.  Historical fiction + Newbery book + pretty close to brand new?  Oh yes.

Georgie is a fun character who always speaks her mind, even when it gets her in trouble, and she isn’t afraid to back up her words with actions.  So when at her sister’s funeral, Georgie states her belief that her sister isn’t really dead–that the body they found wasn’t Agatha–and no one believes her, Georgie follows up with an excursion to find out the truth about what happened to her sister.

The book is funny at times and heart-wrenching at others (my favorite combination!).  Georgie, along with her sister’s former boyfriend, encounter many obstacles on their trek, including wild animals and unsavory characters.  Fortunately, Georgie is a crack shot, and she’s able to defend herself on more than one occasion.  However, she isn’t able to defend herself from the growing doubt that Agatha might, in fact, really be dead.

One Came Home covers a unique period of American history–the great passenger pigeon nestings, and the hunters who followed them.  I didn’t know much about this crazy phenomenon before reading this book, so I enjoyed learning about it.  As much as I love World War II novels, it’s nice sometimes to read about another period of history.  The characters were fun and unique, and the mystery worked as well.  This is definitely a Newbery book worth reading.

Rating: Pretty Darn Good

About Monica

I am obsessed with all things books. I'm a music teacher by day and a freelance editor by night.

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