One Year in Coal Harbor by Polly Horvath
Return to the world of Horvath’s Newbery Honor winning Everything on a Waffle in this follow up. Primrose Squarp is back living with her parents in Coal Harbor and everything should be just fine, but there’s more trouble brewing in town. Primrose just knows that if people would listen to her, it would all work out fine. Like Uncle Jack and Kate Bowzer: Primrose knows they are in love, but they just won’t admit it. Then there’s the lack of a best friend, though the new foster kid might just be the right person. And finally, there’s logging happening outside of town that’s bringing in protesters and developers, making for all sorts of excitement. Horvath lives up to the first book here, giving readers another chance to spend time in Coal Harbor.
Horvath has created a beautiful setting for her book that is so much a part of the story that it could not have happened anywhere else. She has then taken that setting and populated it with amazing characters. There are snotty girls, loving friends, intriguing strangers, and at the heart an extended family that provides support through everything. While the characters may be wild at times, there is such a network of community in the book that it all makes merry sense.
Though there is a sense of community and family throughout, Horvath also deals with some darker issues here. There is the question of development of wilderness and the death of a pet. While this darkness is there, it is not all encompassing. The town continues to function and life goes on.
Horvath’s writing is also exquisite. I particularly enjoy the parts where Primrose (who is wise and interesting and exactly the sort of person any reader would want as a best friend) is thinking about life. Here is one of my favorite passages from page 148:
…but it was as if he and I and the hills were all part of one thing, separate from other things on Earth. Just as my mother and father and I were part of one thing, separate from all else. And these small subsets within the universe, I decided, are maybe what people love best. Whether it is you and the ocean or you and your sisters or you and your B and B, your husband and children.
Fans of the first book should definitely read the second, and truly, who in could ever pass it up! I envy new readers of the pair of books who can read them back to back and spend an extended time in Coal Harbor. Appropriate for ages 9-12.
Reviewed from digital galley from NetGalley.