Echo Mountain

Written by Lauren Wolk
Review by Elizabeth Caulfield Felt

With no work for tailors and music teachers during the Great Depression, Ellie’s parents moved their family onto Echo Mountain three years ago. They build a cabin and carve out a subsistence-style living. Twelve-year-old Ellie loves the mountain and the freedom of life on it. Her little brother is like her, but Ellie’s mother and older sister dreadfully miss city life. One day, while helping her father fell a tree, an accident occurs, and although not her fault, Ellie shoulders the blame. Lonely and emotionally estranged from her family, Ellie explores the woods past where she is allowed to go and makes friends with the mysterious “hag” who lives at the top of the mountain. Cate knows about healing—but will Ellie’s family listen?

Ellie is an incredible character, wild and tender and brave and wise beyond her years—yet realistically so. Wolk creates a family full of complex emotions and relationships as seen through the eyes and heart of a child. The story teaches so many good lessons and does so subtly, within the heart-pounding suspense of the many conflicts. The way Wolk weaves together the different elements of the story is stupendous. Highly recommended. Ages 10 and up.