On January 1st, I read The Battle of Junk Mountain. I read 82 books last year, but I realized that very few of them were fiction. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that. I love non-fiction, particularly memoir. However, I’ve been reading primarily non-fiction for years, and I want to start re-incorporating some fiction into my life.
Recently, I accidentally got several young adult novels from the library. The Battle of Junk Mountain was one of them. So I decided to kick off the new year right by reading it. It’s intended for young readers, so it’s a really fast read. I probably finished it in an hour. And it was a delightful hour. I found myself slipping into my imagination in a way that just doesn’t happen with other distractions such as watching TV.
About The Battle of Junk Mountain
The Battle of Junk Mountain is the story of a twelve-year-old girl named Shayne who is on her summer vacation in Maine. She used to go there every summer to visit her grandmother. However, changes in the family mean that this might be the last year that she visits. Therefore, it’s filled with nostalgia for her, as well as with the pressing feeling that she needs to fit in all of her favorite things.
Unfortunately, when she gets there, she realizes that things aren’t the way that they used to be. For example, her best friend Poppy just doesn’t have as much time for her as she used to. Much of the book is about their struggle to try to resume their friendship even as age, time, and distance have them growing apart.
In the meantime, Shayne starts to develop a friendship with a new boy next door. He’s a Civil War buff filled with odd facts. He’s staying with his grandfather, a lobster fisherman that Shanye ends up working on the boat for. I expected the friendship with this odd boy to take a romantic turn, but it didn’t, which was refreshing.
The other main storyline of the book is Bea’s grandmother. She was always a bit of a collector. Her husband died – in a fog-related boating accident – a few years before. Ever since she’s filled his absence with stuff; she’s become a hoarder. Shayne is there to help her sort through and sell her things. However, she quickly realizes it’s an insurmountable task. Ultimately she calls her mom to come help with the situation. The three generations of women have their conflicts but they connect to help one another out.
Things I Loved About Junk Mountain
Such a short book manages to fit a lot of different themes and storylines in. There’s a developing story about Shayne’s hatred for fog. Of course, at the story’s climax, she gets stuck in a boat in the fog. It’s an apt metaphor for the way that she’s feeling about her changing friendship and her grandmother’s situation.
There’s the element of Civil War history that the neighbor boy introduces. There’s also the information about the life of a fisherman that comes through her experience of working on the boat. All of this ties into the larger story about how life – and the people in it – change as you age.
I haven’t read young adult novels in a long time. It made me nostalgic myself, thinking about how much books like this impacted me when I was a kid. Looking at them as an adult, I gained a new appreciation for how much information goes into a work like this, yet distilled down to a bite-sized understandable version of events.
A smaller, fun thing that I loved about The Battle for Junk Mountain is that each chapter has a cute title. They read like something that would be on a bumper sticker or button. For example, “My house was clean last week. Sorry you missed it.” And “My get up and go has got up and went.”
Lines I Loved in The Battle of Junk Mountain
In addition to the cute chapter titles, there were a few lines I loved from this book.
“All the fun drains out of a plan when you’re the only person who cares.”
It’s so true. You can be really excited about an outing or adventure. However, if your family or friends naysay it, then it becomes difficult to maintain that enthusiasm.
“Change sucks,” I blurt.
Linc wipes the grit from his hands as he stands. “Sometimes. But sometimes it can surprise you in a good way.”
Such a simple statement. However, it’s poignant. After all, how many times have you said or heard, “change sucks.” When you’re going through it, change can be painful, overwhelming, frustrating, and confusing. However, there’s the image of the caterpillar-turned-butterfly for a reason; change can also “surprise you in a good way.”
About the Author of Junk Mountain
This book was written by Lauren Abbey Greenberg. She attended the Institute of Children’s Literature. She’s had work published in Highlights for Children, which delighted me to read about since that was something that I loved when I was a child. She lives in Maryland, but summers in Maine, so I’d guess that the area she’s written about in this book is well-represented even though it’s not an area I’m familiar with myself. This is her first novel.