I started a semi-regular series here featuring favorite authors. I decided to expand that category and include favorite books, not necessarily new ones I recently read, but old favorites. The kind that I reread or would never ever remove permanently from my bookcase.
The Wild Girls by Pat Murphy (Viking/2007)
Joan is unhappy when she must move with her family from Connecticut to California. She’s angry with her mother, and her father is perpetually angry at everyone and everything, so Joan is both surprised and happy to meet The Queen of the Foxes (aka Fox, aka Sarah) who lives not too far away from Joan’s new home in the middle of the woods. The two girls share adventures and make up stories all summer, until school starts and Joan discovers that Sarah is not only not one of the cool girls, but ostracized. Still, they remain friends. They win a writing contest and take a special summer program at UC Berkeley on creative writing. Joan takes great joy in learning how to write stories – even as her world/family seems to be crumbling apart – along with Fox’s. As she asks more questions and observes more, she sees things she hadn’t noticed before – her mother’s strength and her father’s unhappiness. And sometimes, even though you want to fly away, it’s better to stay. The story itself centers around families and change, and how Joan and Fox interpret these things and survive. The story and the characters tugged on my emotions, and I fell in love with Joan and Fox. Such a great story, so well-written!
I read and loved this book when I first read it years ago, and I recommended to friends near and far who also loved it. I re-read it last year and still love it. I hope the author writes something new soon!