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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

For fans of Wilder Girls comes a nightmarish debut guaranteed to keep you up through the night, about an idyllic small town poisoned by its past, and one girl who must fight the strange disease that's slowly claiming everyone she loves. Wren owes everything she has to her hometown, Hollow’s End, a centuries-old, picture-perfect slice of America. Tourists travel miles to marvel at its miracle crops, including the shimmering, iridescent wheat of Wren’s family’s farm. At least, they did. Until five months ago. That’s when the Quicksilver blight first surfaced, poisoning the farms of Hollow’s End one by one. It began by consuming the crops, thick silver sludge bleeding from the earth. Next were the animals. Infected livestock and wild creatures staggered off into the woods by day—only to return at night, their eyes fogged white, leering from the trees. Then the blight came for the neighbors. Wren is among the last locals standing, and the blight has finally come for her, too…

What We Harvest

by Ann Fraistat

Overall Book Review:

Wren has always known that there was something different about the town of Hollow’s End, and that even though she doesn’t know exactly what it is, it’s something spectacular. Growing up on a wheat farm where the crops are bountiful and so healthy and vibrant they literally shimmer, Wren and her family and the other farmers in town have always felt fortunate and lucky to have the land and its bountiful harvest. 

Then tragedy hit. Blight has overtaken the fields and is taking over, ruining the livelihood of almost everyone Wren knows. The fields aren’t the only thing that is haunting Hollow’s End, and as Wren searches for answers, she is losing everything she loves. Even her dog Teddy has changed into something she doesn’t recognize and fears, and now Wren is afraid that the blight that is poisoning her family’s wheat is connected to the strange sickness that her dog and now her parents have succumbed to. 

Wren certainly seems wise beyond her years, but that’s not enough to protect her from the creatures that haunt the woods and only come out at night. Despite trying to be careful, Wren begins to show symptoms of the sickness that her parents and her dog were infected with, something connected to the blight that lurks in the soil that once seemed to hold magic. Wren isn’t one to give up easily though, and will fight until the bitter end. 

What We Harvest is a book full of imagination and a fair share of horrors that seem impossible and yet somewhat realistic at the same time. I enjoyed reading it and though there were a few parts that I had to read a couple of times to grasp what was happening, the end product is satisfying and addictive — I couldn’t put this book down until I knew what happened to Wren and the rest of the inhabitants of Hollow’s End!

Review of a Digital Advance Reading Copy from Random House Children’s

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language: 40 religious exclamations; 22 mild obscenities; 19 scatological words; 5 anatomical terms; 4 F-Word derivatives.

Violence/Gore: A mention is made of a natural disaster occurring and a farm surviving it; a report is made of a minor being infected by a strange illness referred to as blight and being chained up in a barn by parents, in an attempt to escape the boy is mentioned to snap his neck and die; a minor worries she may have accidentally hit her dog with a truck and killed him; reports are made of neighbors going missing, wandering into cold woods and never seen again; a report is made of a person infected with blight lunging at someone and almost tearing their arm off; a report is made of a truck being found on the side of a road with a blood trail leading away into the woods and it is assumed that the driver was infected with blight; a brief scene occurs where a minor is chased through woods and fields by a bear, the minor shoots the bear with a gun and a brief description of the injuries the bear sustained from the bullet is mentioned; a man is reported missing after having a fight with his wife and it is rumored he may have been infected with blight; a beloved dog is infected with blight and only visits home at night, scaring its owners; a brief scene occurs where a minor hears voices and wonders if they are hallucinating; a minor finds her missing mother at the bottom of a hill with lots of bad injuries which are briefly described; someone makes verbal threats about using a gun to shoot people; two minors are chased by a group of infected people and some injuries are briefly mentioned as well as fighting in self-defense; a minor is briefly described to bite another character’s arm and blood is mentioned as well as a creepy description of teeth falling out and still being lodged in the arm of the minor that was bitten; a minor is punched in a brief scene; a brief description is given of a man who has been infected and eaten by the blight, a minor also sees an observes what the blight has done to her infected parents; a minor falls from a height and hits the ground, then is briefly mentioned to survey her injuries; an infected dog is mentioned to bite a boy through his jeans and some blood is mentioned; a brief scene occurs where a minor is chased and hit in the head with something hard, the minor is then described to later vomit up blood and rot; a mention is made of a gory ritual performed on humans with little detail; a death is reported.

Sex/Nudity: A minor girl sleeps on the floor in her ex-boyfriend’s room and a parent is implied to think that something sexual might happen between them; a minor recalls that she and her ex never slept together other than falling asleep and taking a nap; a minor boy changes his shirt in front of his ex-girlfriend and it is mentioned that this is nothing new as she has seen his bare chest before; minors kiss in a brief scene.

Mature Subject Matter:

Death; loss of a loved one; Illness.

Drugs/Alcohol Use:

An adult is seen smoking on a house porch; a minor smells alcohol and recalls a time she and her mom had some cider together.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

Books and reading have always been an important part of my life. When I was very young, my grandma was the library director at our local public library. Years later, after she had retired, I became a librarian at the same library and worked there for several years before taking a part-time job at a local coffee shop, which gives me more time to do what I love, to read and to review books! A few of my favorite authors are Aimee Bender, Diane Chamberlain, and Curtis Sittenfeld however, I will read almost any book I come across! In my spare time you can find me reading (of course), volunteering at a wildlife animal rehab, or hanging out with my two house rabbits.