The Growing Rock

Written by Susanna Lancaster
Review by Meg Wiviott

Life is difficult during the Great Depression, and when 14-year-old Caroline’s father leaves to find work and promises everything will be all right, Caroline doesn’t believe him. First, strict Aunt Elsmere comes to live with them. Then, her sickly younger sister, Phoebe, falls gravely ill, and her favorite brother, who also left to find work, stops writing. Mama falls into hopelessness, and her older sister, Blanche, is up to something, skipping out on her chores and leaving Caroline to do all the work. When Phoebe is well enough, Caroline takes her to the Growing Rock, which sits in the yard, to tell her the hopeful stories that had once been told to her—of the magical rock that grows during the summer to make room for the faeries that live beneath it.

For readers ages 10-14, The Growing Rock is a coming of age story which offers a realistic glimpse into life during the Depression. Caroline is an historically accurate character from a more innocent time. Particularly relatable for today’s young readers is her relationship with Blanche, whom Caroline admires despite her selfish behavior. Also of particular tenderness is the budding romance between Caroline and Peter, the boy next door.

There is little depth in the story, despite all the currents running through it. Still, it is a tender-hearted story for young readers.