I'm really excited to be sharing my thoughts on my second read for my year-long project with my friend Lindsey, The Year of Recommended Reads. This month, we tackled a middle grade title that we've both been curious about for a while: Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms. Like last month, I'll be explaining how this book wound up on my TBR, sharing my review, a few favorites and my Goodreads status updates as I read. Don't forget to check out Lindsey's post too!
Why was this book on my TBR? To be completely honest, I actually had my eye on a different Katherine Rundell, thanks to my friend Hannah. (You may recognize her as the girl who also recommended last month's novel.) But when Lindsey and I were putting together our TBR for this project, she suggested we go with this one!
What is the book about? Wilhelmina Silver has grown up on the untamed plains of Africa, bound by nothing and running wild as only a child with her imagination and vivacity can. But everything changes after her father dies. The farm she lives on is sold, and she is sent far away to a boarding school in London. When the entire world seems to be against her, can Wil find the courage to survive her new circumstances and stay true to herself?
What did I think? I definitely have very mixed feelings towards this novel. My reservations primarily lie in the lackluster secondary character development, as well as the oddly paced plot. But what ended up tipping the balance in favor of liking this one was the way I was able to personally connect with Wilhelmina's story. I loved that she was an extraordinary, brave, unique little girl. I loved that she was trying to figure out how to deal with all the changes being thrown her way, but particularly that she was trying to figure out her sense of place and belonging at being somewhere new. It was an experience that keenly resonated with my own (since I had a similar displacement at around Wil's age), and that alone made the reading experience really nice.
Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms by Katherine Rundell
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | Publication Date: August 26, 2014
Source: Hardcover borrowed from the library
Favorite character? I'm sure it's fairly obvious from the thoughts I shared earlier, but I loved the main character Wilhelmina Silver so much. We're nothing alike - she's loud and opinionated and grew up running wild on a farm. But I enjoyed her liveliness and her quirks. More importantly, I really could relate to what she experienced.
Favorite scene? I really loved the beginning of the book, when Wil was still living in Africa. One of my favorite scenes involves Wil and her best friend going to their own 'spot' and spending time there together. It's really cute, and it reminded me of childhood shenanigans (though my setting for them was nowhere near as cool).
Favorite quote? "It is real life that takes the real courage, little wildcat. School is very difficult. But that's because it takes toughness and patience. It's what life is, my love. Although life is very beautiful, it is also very difficult."