Echo Mountain

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"I would have saved him if I'd been there." says 6 year old Samuel.

"When I touched the soft timbers that had once stood firm against blizzards and hail, I could feel them dreaming of the time when they were stronger than storms."- 12-year old Ellie

Life can hand you some tough times.  First, it handed Ellie and her family the Great Depression.  It's 1934 in the state of Maine and father has lost his tailoring business and mother has lost her job teaching.  The family has had to move to a little piece of a mountain out in the middle of nowhere and far from the community and support system mother and 15 year old sister, Esther, loved and need so much.  Working together the family has to rise to the challenge and they do, building a cabin to live in and clearing the space to plant the peas and corn that will help them survive.

But life wasn't done with them.  After it looked as though they were beginning to find their feet again, father stepped into the path of a falling tree and was left in a coma for months where he lies now.  Ellie, twelve year old, carries the blame for the accident and Ellie sees and feels the anger and the need to blame someone coming at her from her mother and her sister.

Where Esther and mother feel lost and cut off from the world, in this new life Ellie has discovered the wonder of the natural world around her and is finding a new version of her self that she never knew was waiting inside.  Ellie is also determined to find a way to bring father back to them.  Her ways are different.  Her understanding of what father needs is not shared by mother and Esther and as Ellie tries them one at a time her punishments grow and her distance from her family grows as well.

How does a twelve-year-old girl find herself in the woods of Maine?  How does a family stay connected when they are being pulled apart and living at the edge of survival?  How can Ellie or anyone in her family trust in life, trust in their own abilities to cope with the unexpected and to even thrive and love the next moment or the next day?  How do you learn to do what you don't know how to do?  How do you learn to cope with things you don't know how to cope with?

This is an exquisite story about the natural wonder that surrounds us. Ellie sees.  Ellie feels it all inside of herself and understands she is connected to every fish and every bee.  She also understands that over and over again i life she will have to hold on to two opposite ideas and even two opposite feelings.   This is an exceptionally perceptive story about our fears and how we can learn to live well even when life seems to be setting up an insurmountable obstacle course.

The power of friendship, the deep bond with a dog, the determination to create your own miracle are all integral pieces of this deeply layered story that reveals how different family members can be, the ability we all have to become and become and become, and the incredible wonder of this gift we all hold precious - our one unique, ever-evolving life.

Investigators will read this and appreciate the gorgeous storytelling and genius of the author which rise to the highest standard.  This is the craft at its best.  Teamplayers will read this and cherish the bonds of family and friendship and helping others.  Champions will read this and will celebrate the belief in one's ability to create a miracle and to heal others and yourself.

Character driven and a work of literary art and hope and all about the amazing spark that flickers and burns in each of us.

This is a wonderful.

368 pages                                      978-0525555568                        Ages 10-14

Recommended by: Barb Langridge,


The Great Depression impacts twelve-year old Ellie and her family. Losing everything forces them to move from town to the wilds of Echo Mountain. Her father, a tailor by trade, must now learn a new life and  become a rugged “mountain man.” Her mother tries her best to make things work and hold the family together.

Feeling free, Ellie explores the vast richness of her surroundings reveling in nature and finding joy by discovering this new world and its secrets, but when a terrible accident injures her father, Ellie takes unfair and silent blame from her family. She feels she must make it up to them, so she seeks out the help of a healer far up the mountain known only as “the hag.” Whispered about by the locals, the “hag” has become a mysterious (and feared) legend. Ellie believes her father’s only hope lies in a natural treatment the healer is sure to provide. In her quest to find the hag, Ellie finds her own inner strength.

Prose as beautifully resplendent as the mountain setting, Wolk delivers in this brilliant tale of resilience, determination and finding yourself. Echo Mountain is the rare coming of age story that will resonate with readers of all ages. Recommended for any classroom reading group or book club, and Echo Mountain would be a fine read for background history of The Great Depression.

HIghly, highly recommended grades 4 and up. Don't miss this book!


The Newbery Honor–winning author of Wolf Hollow returns with the story of an unforgettable young heroine in Depression-era Maine.

After the financial crash, Ellie and her family have lost nearly everything—including their home in town. Forced to start over, Ellie has found a welcome freedom, and a love of the natural world, in her new life on Echo Mountain. But there is little joy, even for Ellie, as her family struggles with the aftermath of an accident that left her father in a coma. An accident for which Ellie has accepted the unearned weight of blame.

Determined to help her father, Ellie will make her way to the top of the mountain in search of the healing secrets of a woman known only as “the hag." But the hag, and the mountain, still have many untold stories left to reveal and, with them, a fresh chance at happiness.

Critically acclaimed author Lauren Wolk weaves a stunning tale of resilience, persistence, and friendship across three generations of strong women, set against the rough and ragged beauty of the mountain they all call home.---from the publisher

Keywords:  family, economic insecurity, nature, accident, resilience, friends, friendship, women, mountains, 10 year old, 11 year old, 12 year old, 13 year old, Great Depression, Maine, hope, finding yourself, wonder, fathers/daughters, community, acceptance

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A must read!!!!
This is the wonderful story of a spunky, persevering and brave twelve year old girl named Ellie. The setting is the wild woods of Maine in the 1930’s. Her parents lost their home in the Great Depression and were forced to move, along with many neighbors, to the woods, where Ellie has learned to hunt, fish and start a fire among a multitude of other tasks. Now, Ellie’s skills and confidence put her at odds with her resentful mother and older sister, who miss their former life in town.

The story is told vividly contrasting life in town where folks walked on sidewalks instead of on pine-needle paths. Instead of paper currency the family must now for barter for things they need such as, eggs and medical care. Good bye to any sentimental possession that has value.
Life takes a drastic turn after the accident that put Ellie’s dad in a coma and left his family in a state of suspended grief and the backbreaking work of survival for a family of five in the wild.

Despite these hardships, Ellie uses her skills to help keep her family safe and fed and to find a way to wake up her father. Her unconventional yet logical efforts on this front are humorous and heartbreaking. Yet just maybe, hopeful.
Ellie’s life contains some big mysteries, as well. Who is leaving her beautifully carved miniature figurines? Might the “hag” who lives up the mountain know how to heal her father.

I felt I was right on the mountain with the families. I hurt, I was shocked, scared, on edge and just about any other emotion I could experience.

Wolk is an amazing writer and Echo Mountain is my Newbery pick so far this year. 2020
Historical fiction. Age 10+
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