I received a free pdf copy for the purpose of review. I have not recieved any other compensation. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are entirely my own.
I finished reading the first book in the Ginnie West Adventure series a couple of weeks ago.
The basic plot:
Ginnie and Tillie are BFFs, but they would love to also be sisters. So they hatch a plot to try to get Ginnie's widowed dad and Tillie's divorced mom to fall in love. Along the way their own friendship is tested, and Ginnie begins to question the plan when she finds her mom's old journals. When her dad suddenly takes the journals away, she feels like she looses the mother she was only just beginning to get to know all over again. Operation Secret Sisters just might be over soon no sooner than it began!
First off, I really like the characters, Ginnie, Tillie, Ginnie's Dad, and Tillie's mom especially. The girls are well written. They are flawed, they have big emotions, they make bad decisions sometimes, they act out, all extremely relatable to girls in this age range. I like that the parents are smart, kind, and sweet, but have rules and expectations. They are in charge and demand respect. As a parent, I appreciate that in a book for young readers.
I like the plot and I think the twists and turns were interesting.
There were a few things I didn't care for. I felt the character Buzz was unnecessary to the story and his presence was confusing considering this book has such a large cast, including integral characters who are no longer on the scene for various reasons. Maybe Buzz plays a larger roll in the later books, but in this one I felt his inclusion was frustrating to me as a reader.
In line with that, I think an 8 or 9 year old reader would have a hard time keeping up with this cast. I think too, the depth of emotions surrounding a parent dying, alcoholism, family violence, and playing matchmaker are also too advanced for readers of that age, even though these are dealt with with tact and delicacy in the story. Those are topics that need a lot of explanation with loads of reassurance to an age where those things are still very adult. Personally, I feel this book is for ages 11+.
Lastly, because the story is so good and the characters so well developed, I was especially annoyed by the pictures. By themselves they are nice illustrations, but I think they are not the best fit for this book. The pictures give the story an almost cartoonish feel, but this book is far from it. The pictures distorted the characters that I saw in my head and it actually made me think less of them because I was reminded that they were not real people. I don't think pictures are necessary to the story, more than a few sketches with the chapter titles, and the occasional piece of riding tack or basket of eggs here and there throughout the pages. The picture of the girls on the cover is okay, if it were the only one, but I would still prefer an illustration more real to life. I feel it would lend more credibility to the story, allowing more older readers to take it seriously.
Overall, I like the book and would have no problem with Grace reading them in a few years when she is at least ten. It gets four stars from me.
To learn more about the other books in the series check out this Book Blast post!
Thanks for reading with us!