“I did a pre-publishing beta read of Annette Drake’s Bone Girl a few weeks before its recent launch March 1st. I was a little nervous about it since the book description and the age of the protagonist made me think of it as a book for middle school kids. It’s been years since I was in middle school. In fact, it’s been years since my kids were in middle school. Would I still be able to relate to it?

But I’d been happily reading a range of styles and genres since joining Goodreads. I’d enjoyed Ms Drake’s Celebration House despite not being a paranormal romance aficionada. (Quite frankly, I had no idea there was a genre called that before joining GR reading groups.) And so, I began Bone Girl with an open mind and was soon caught up in the story.

Josie was a very sympathetic and believable character and her father was a good-hearted long-suffering Atticus Finch type fellow who nearly broke my heart. Throughout the story, he quietly and stoically did what he thought was right without complaining or making a big deal out of it. (Can you guess he was my favorite character?) He reminded me of my own dad, and toward the end I wanted to shout for him to stop and let us help him. Let us hold some of that world that’s been weighing on your shoulders far too long.

And so, I liked the book despite my age. Maybe it’s because the story was a nice balance between real world challenges and a little hopeful idealism in which you just knew that somehow, some way, things had to turn out right. Or maybe it’s because Ms Drake simply knows how to tell a good story. By the time I was done, I wanted to learn to play the trombone and be a bone girl too. I wanted to live on a horse farm.

Give Bone Girl a try, whether you’re in middle school or decades past it.”
— P.J. O’Brien

“A few weeks ago, I specifically requested an ARC of this book from the author because I knew it was in production, slated for March release, and I had recently enjoyed Ms. Drake’s first novel. (Since I did read a late-stage draft, I’ll refrain from discussing any minor editorial issues. The writing is pretty crisp and flows in a natural way.)

This novel has a middle-school protagonist and is probably aimed at a middle-school audience, but it’s also a good book for adult readers. The style is never simplistic as some books for that age can be. I liked it a lot. The author really made the characters come alive for me, and they all seemed quite real, colorful, and “properly flawed” (if I can use a term like that).

There are some strong themes in the book, especially concerning the protagonist’s parents; they are well-handled, realistic. I suspect many situations will resonate with certain young readers. (At one point in the book I honestly wanted to reach through my little device and throttle a particular character, so I was obviously emotionally invested a bit there.)

By the end, found myself experiencing a good mix of ups and downs, felt satisfied, and was looking forward to learning more about the book’s characters. Several of the characters have interesting back-stories that could be explored, and there are suggestions of possible future directions, so I hope there is eventually a sequel.”
— Richard

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