Happy Friday, friends! I’m back today with another mini review of a fun book… that somehow didn’t manage to meet all of my expectations. Let’s get to it!
Eric Smith, The Girl and the Grove, Published by Flux, May 8th, 2018.
Teenager Leila’s life is full of challenges. From bouncing around the foster care system to living with seasonal affective disorder, she’s never had an easy road. Leila keeps herself busy with her passion for environmental advocacy, monitoring the Urban Ecovists message board and joining a local environmental club with her best friend Sarika. And now that Leila has finally been adopted, she dares to hope her life will improve.
But the voices in Leila’s head are growing louder by the day. Ignoring them isn’t working anymore. Something calls out to her from the grove at Fairmount Park.
- Our main character, Leila, was really endearing and I loved her right from the start. She is passionate, fierce, determined, but also insecure at times and I wanted to root for her and hug her all along. Also, diverse! characters! poc! rep! for!the!win!
- I love that this story has an adoptee as a main character just as well. In this family for a couple months, we get to see how Leila grew accustomed to her new parents, her struggles to finally start calling them “mom” and “dad” and everything was just so adorable. Also this is an #ownvoices book for that soo YAY.
- This brings me to my third point: I NEED to talk about how cool the parents were and their relationship with Leila. They were protective, understanding and also really fun (mention for Jon, the dad, who made me laugh a lot). I’m all for great parents-children relationship and that one just warmed my heart. I loved the focus on family that way, especially unconventional families, as Leila was adopted.
- We also got an amazing and strong female friendship between Leila and her best friend, Sarika. I loved how they supported each other all the way and all of their interactions were gold.
- The Girl and the Grove has such a great focus on the environment, something that I also found quite original and really enjoyed seeing in the book.
I HAD A HARD TIME WITH…
- While I really enjoyed the idea of the story overall, I felt like it missed a little something for me to be completely captivated. The fantasy/magical elements were there, yet I felt like they could have been a bit more developed, like the atmosphere, the trees, the woods, everything, could have used a little bit more work to really stand out and give this book really magical vibes. It had tons of potential, yet I felt a bit disappointed by the execution.
- I enjoyed the side-characters, but they felt a bit superficial to me, at times. I wanted to know more about them, about the best friend, about the love interest, about the mean-girl of the story who, unfortunately, felt a bit two-dimensional. It was a great cast, but once again, it missed a little something.
- Lastly, and I don’t know if it’s just me, but the blurb promised me representation of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), something I really was looking forward to… but maybe I missed it somewhere??! The only mention of that happened at the start of the book, but it isn’t explored more and…. I’m sad. Sorry. That was a bad pun. (Maybe I did!! I’m not excluding that I didn’t see it, but… I don’t know, there should have been more?)
The Girl and the Grove was a really refreshing story, with great, endearing characters and a premise with loads of potential. If it failed to meet my expectations a little bit, I would still recommend it if you’re looking for a fun read, a focus on family and environment with a touch of magic.
Final rating: 3 drops!
The biggest thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for sending me an ARC of this book. This did not, in any way, affect my opinion and this review.
Trigger warnings: let me know if you found some, so I can add them to this.
Do you want to read The Girl and the Grove? Why, or why not?
Do you know other stories talking about the foster-care system and adopted main characters? Let me know in comments!