Friday, June 21, 2013

The Girl from Felony Bay by J. E. Thompson

Image from
Walden Pond Press (An Imprint of HarperCollins), 2013

Before that fateful day when she found her beloved father unconscious on the floor surrounded by stolen jewels, Abbey Force lived happily with her lawyer father on Reward Plantation. Life was good on Leadenwah Island, South Carolina. She went to Miss Walker’s School for Girls in Charleston and spent countless hours riding her pony and exploring her family’s land. Now, 9 months after that horrible day, Abbey’s father is still in a coma at the hospital and the plantation has been sold to repay the victim of the robbery that her father is being accused of committing. Summer vacation has just started and Abbey is living with her abusive Uncle Charlie and Ruth in their house close to Reward. Abbey has resigned herself to a summer of chores and avoiding her relatives, but all that changes when she meets the daughter of the new owner of the plantation. While Abbey is showing Bee around Reward the two girls unexpectedly stumble upon suspicious activities at hidden Felony Bay. Why are holes being dug on the beach at the bay? Does it have anything to do with the old stories about buried Civil War treasure? Why does Abbey have a hunch this new development has something to do with her father’s situation? Most importantly, how can Abbey clear her father's name and will he ever wake up from his coma? Unaware of looming danger, Abbey and Bee set out to answer these questions and more in this thrilling adventure.

Readers looking for a thrilling adventure set in the real world will find this a satisfying read. Thompson’s story is a cross between a friendship story and a mystery, with just the right amount of lawyer-speak for young readers. The plot is intriguing, with just enough red herrings to keep readers on their toes, but not so many that the plot is muddy. A spunky protagonist, Abbey is very loyal and caring. She sticks up for her friends and family and she uses her intelligence and quick thinking to escape many a dangerous situation. The physical and verbal abuse demonstrated by Deputy Simmons, Uncle Charlie, and Ruth is portrayed in a straight forward and realistic manner, however these characters are the “bad guys” and Thompson makes sure they get what they deserve. Thompson addresses race relations in a legal, as well as moral sense through Abbey’s friendship with Bee, as well as Mrs. Middleton the elderly descent of a former slave of the Force family. Additionally, the meaning of doing the right thing in a moral versus a legal sense is a common thread throughout the story. A helpful map of the plantation is included at the beginning of the book.

Read the first few chapters of the book and find yourself transported to Leadenwah Island.

*Use this book for a book club discussion. Try some of the questions in the discussion guide provided by HarperCollins.

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Age 9+ / Grade 4+


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