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Child of the Mountains

4.03 of 5 stars 4.03  ·  rating details  ·  391 ratings  ·  108 reviews
It’s about keeping the faith.

Growing up poor in 1953 in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia doesn’t bother Lydia Hawkins. She treasures her tight-knit family. There’s her loving mama, now widowed; her whip-smart younger brother, BJ, who has cystic fibrosis; and wise old Gran. But everything falls apart after Gran and BJ die and mama is jailed unjustly. Suddenly Lydi
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published April 10th 2012 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
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Community Reviews

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As of late I haven't read as much, which is a shame since there are so many titles out that just sound wonderful. What I'm trying to get at is that when I choose to read a book it has to easily win me over, and this story is a prime example of a little book that won my heart over completely.

Lydia at the moment is living with her Aunt and Uncle away from Paradise (the actual town she used to live in). Her life has turned right on its head in just a few moments. Her Gran and younger brother have d
This was a very heartfelt book for me. I can't believe how many times a felt a little ache in my chest for Lydia. Why is it that I fall for these books? Because they feel honest. I believe my favorite genre is fantasy and I will always love it but then there are books like this. That isn’t at all dystopian or full of dragons or love triangles and yet it made my heart yearn and ache. There was still magic in something as ordinary as fermentation. You'll know what I'm talking about if you read the ...more
This is a sneaky little book. I started it on the bus, and when I read the first page I groaned internally. I wondered if it wouldn't be better just to stare into space. My mama's in jail. It ain't right. Leastwise, I don't think so. Them folks that put her there just don't understand our family.

Then I read the second page, and laughed out loud. That's why I stopped by the company store after school yesterday and bought me the biggest spiral notebook they had. Maybe writing everthing down will
Why does every main character lately have to have a parent in jail?!?!?!?! Even though I felt as though I had read this storyline in a few previous novels, I did like the unique take on it using excellent, authentic dialogue (which subtly changed as the character aged). The author also nicely used the character's reflections on past events to explain her current situation. Def. more of a Grade 5/6 novel as the dialogue, esp. at the beginning can be challenging.
Oh, and
Dear Publisher,
This story is both heart-wrenching and heart-warming. Lydia Hawkins is a young woman (child really), that has been forced to see a lot of adversity in her young years. She doesn't really see much of the poverty and hard-work as anything other than routine until the death of her brother. Even after this event, Lydia strives to keep going strong. Ms. Shank has written a beautiful story of mountain living in the West Virginia hills in the early 1950s. There are no apologies made, nor are any needed ...more
[This review also appears on Andi's Young Adult Books.]

Child of the Mountains by Marilyn Sue Shank is the story of a young girl named Lydia who lives in Appalachia. It takes place in the year 1953. Lydia feels pretty lost right now. She has been sent to live with her aunt and uncle. Her father passed away in an accident some years ago. Her mother is currently in jail, for theoretically killing her little brother, BJ, who had cystic fibrosis. Her grandmother has also just passed away. She is angr
Child of the Mountains/ Marilyn Sue Shank/ 2012

Genre: Juvenal Fiction/Historical Fiction

Format: Book

Summary: Growing up poor in 1953 in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia doesn't bother Lydia Hawkins. She treasures her tight-knit family. There's her loving mama, now widowed; her whip-smart younger brother, BJ, who has cystic fibrosis; and wise old Gran. But everything falls apart after Gran and BJ die and mama is jailed unjustly. Suddenly Lydia has lost all those dearest to her.

Moving t
Recommended Age:

Overall Rating: 4.5 stars

Overall Review:
Because I grew up not far from the Appalachian mountains and have cystic fibrosis myself, I was immediately intrigued by the description of Marilyn Sue Shank's Child of the Mountains. This rich, layered book did not disappoint. Lydia's lilting mountain voice is lovely and authentic, and I enjoyed the wonderful characters that peopled the novel. I found Lydia's love for her family, and her tentative first steps into womanhood, moving. Al
Courtney Goldbeck
I started and finished this book in a day. It was one of the best books I have ever read. Though the author is from West Virginia, where the book is set, she really captured the language of the common people of Appalachia. It felt genuine and made the characters more tangible. Lydia is an incredibly brave and tenacious young girl who has everything in her life change but learns from each and every experience and does a lot of growing up at the same time. I cannot wait to see what Shank writes ne ...more
Susan Hatch

This is our book for February. I always have a hard time reading language that sounds like The Hills...and I grew up visiting family in KY and that language reminds me of them. There is this one portion that had the teacher explain why her language was the way it was, how the mountains surrounding the area kept out the development of language because the people stayed and married where they stayed. but that it was time for her to start learning to proper English.

My stepdad was that way. It was h
Compelling read about a young girl growing up poor in 1953 in the Appalachian mountains of West Virginia. Her father is dead and her mother has been sent to prison for a crime that Lydia doesn't believe is her fault. Lydia is living with her aunt and uncle and struggling with the loss of her family. Good read.
I am glad I read this book. It made me want to learn more about the Appalachian Mountains. And looking at images on google I wanted to go there! But I also found it an emotionally draining book to read. Any book that discusses some serious themes involving children always does that to me. And because this novel is so well crafted, it reads much more like a real history of events that actually happened, than just a story of things that might have taken place. As I said at the start, I am glad I r ...more
Jan 03, 2014 Naomi rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone, middle school age
Shelves: 2013
Child of the Mountains by Marilyn Sue Shank

Read: December 2013 Reviewed: January 2014 (Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!)
4.0 stars

This review will be short and sweet like the book.

This book is not a bestseller or very well known, but it is a true gem that I came across by chance.Child of the Mountains was a refreshing read told in the honest and innocent voice of Lydia Hawkins, a young girl living in Western Virginia.

I’m finding it difficult to label this novel as a light read or a heavy one
To say Lydia is unhappy would be an understatement. Her father, brother, and beloved grandmother are all dead. Her mother is in jail. And she's living with her aunt and uncle, who don't get along and who live in Confidence, West Virginia - far from her hometown of Paradise. She knows that her mother has been imprisoned wrongfully, and that the best way to get her life back is to try to get her mother out of jail. But how can she do it? And is she prepared for all that she'll learn along the way? ...more
Ms. Yingling
Lydia's family doesn't have very much money in1950s Appalachia, but they make do. Her grandfather has passed away, as has her abusive father, but her grandmother is a strong presence in helping to make ends meet and help her father care for her young brother, BJ, who has cycstic fibrosis. In an effort to help her brother, Lydia's mother has signed papers to put him in a special hospital, but when it is clear that he doesn't have much time left, the family takes him out of the hospital, and he di ...more
Lindsay (Everyday Is An Adventure)
Oh my, what an endearing and emotional read! I loved this one for so many reasons!

I have a soft place in my heart for stories involving Appalachia and the people who live there. Much of my family calls these mountains home, I chose a college there, and my husband is from the Southwestern Virginia area and calls these mountains his home. For those reasons, and just a pure love of the history of the area, books like this reach me on a whole new level!

I also have to give the author much credit beca
This is a touching and endearing novel. Lydia is both an engaging character and a symbol of the mountain folk - their strengths and weaknesses as well as their history of survival. Understanding that wealth does not lie in the luxuries of society but in the love of family and the strength it creates to endure hardship is one of the many life lessons that this novel has to teach young people. Too often, our perceptions of ourselves are based on what we own, instead of who we are. I was born in 1 ...more
Mark Lynn
When we meet Lydia Hawkins, she has been torn from Paradise, the aptly named hollow she calls home. There she churned apple butter with her beloved granny, played with her precocious younger brother BJ, and traded hugs with her loving momma. That is, until her whole world fell apart.

Lydia is on her own now. Her granny and BJ have both passed, and while her momma is alive, she is imprisoned, serving time for a crime she didn’t commit.

Lydia proves to be a pragmatic girl. She tries to make the best
Barb Terpstra
One thing I like about "Child of the Mountain" is how the book is written in mountain dialect through the eyes of Lydia, a young girl who, obviously, lives on the mountains.

Each chapter starts with "It". "It's about how BJ ended up going to Ohio" or "It's about having nothing to do and my real smart brother", or, Chapter 1, "It's about my problem.

Here's a bit from the first chapter to entice you:

"My mama's in jail. It ain't right. Leastwise I don't think so. Them folks that put her there just
Review originally posted

Child of the Mountains by Marilyn Sue Shank is a beautifully honest and heartbreaking coming-of-age historical fiction.

From the very first page of Child of the Mountains, I was immediately there with the main character, Lydia. She’s from the mountains and her dialect and English isn’t very good, but I was sucked into her story. I was rooting for her from the first page because she’s so heartbroken and honest and good, I guess, is t
Michelle Isenhoff
I loved this book. I sank into it immediately, like an overstuffed couch, and only came out for chores. It’s a beautiful, gentle story of strength despite injustice with a good dose of picturesque Appalachian culture. A wonderful combination.

Eleven-year-old Lydia finds herself unexpectedly living with her Aunt Ethel Mae and Uncle William after a series of tragic circumstances, which are explained through back story during the first several chapters. The plot looks back about as often as it looks
A solid middle grade read with a wonderful narrative voice. Shank masterfully brings to life the rich culture of Appalachia in the 1950's through the eyes of Lydia, an authentic, relatable girl on the cusp of adolescence who is struggling to maintain her identity as the world seems to be trying to tear her down. The adults in her life are complex and interesting as well, though there is a lack of other child characters - Lydia doesn't really interact with her peers much, and the scenes with her ...more

Child of the Mountains – A Good First Book!

This is a story about Lydia Hawkins born and raised in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia. After her Mama is taken to prison Lydia ’s life is turned upside down. She has to move from the home that she has grown to love into the home of her Uncle William and Aunt Ethel Mae’s. Lydia feels she is a burden on her Uncle and Aunt and tries her best to please them.

Lydia had to change schools when she went to live with her Uncle and Aunt and is not mad
Amanda Snow
Originally published at

Lydia loves growing up in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia. She's not at all embarrassed as to how poor she is or how strange others think she speaks and is proud of her heritage. She loves her family very much, despite their incredibly difficult life, the hardships they've had to face, and the lack of hope that seems to come from all directions.

It's 1953 and Lydia's world seems to be falling apart. Her beloved Gran died and now her brot
Destinee Sutton
Though it is largely predictable and somewhat didactic, this is still a pretty good book. I liked the journey of the main character, Lydia, and there was a great hook in the beginning of the book to keep you reading. Why is Lydia's mother in jail for killing Lydia's little brother?

Many other reviewers are saying the 1950s Appalachian voice in this book is pitch-perfect, so I may be all alone in my opinion, but I thought it was overdone. I can only take so many folksy analogies (e.g. "He didn't
What a blessing to read a book like Child of the Mountains by Marilyn Sue Shank! This book is written in the first person, in a dairy format, by Lydia Hawkins, a West Virginia girl who grew up in the Appalachian mountains. She writes as she speaks, in the Appalachian dialect. It is hard to get used to at first, but becomes easier as the book goes on. The story is about Lydia, her younger brother BJ who has cystic fibrosis, her mom, who ends up in jail unfairly, and her Gran, who was a complete h ...more
Child of the Mountains by Marilyn Sue Shank is a wonderful book narrated by a young girl from the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia. It's written in her southern dialect, but that only adds to the richness of the story. Set in the '50s, the hard mountain life is shown. Lydia's immediate family is taken away from her through death and jail. She goes to live with her aunt and uncle who pay little attention to her, and supply her with barely what she needs.

Lydia tells her story, remembering th
I picked this book up because I absolutely love stories set in Appalachia (probably due to generations of ancestors who lived there). The story was intriguing too.

I have to admit, it did take me a little while to get into the book. I initially had a difficult time with the dialect, considering I grew up in Northern Ohio, despite the Appalachian blood :P

It picked up by the middle of the book and went at a great pace the rest of the way. There was one aspect of the plot I was a tad disappointed
Emily Wallace
One of the better middle school books I have read lately. I liked the way the book played against ignorant hillbilly stereo types. The book is set around 1940s. It was an interesting read with great plot twists.
Deals with death of a younger brother and a grandmother.
Middle School age read.
The book is a journey into a journal chronicling her thoughts and stories. What I thought was interesting about this book is the dialect. It is written in West Virginia Appalacia diaclect of a 11 year old girl set in 1953. She talks about her brother, her Gran, and her Mama being sent to jail. She also talked about a dog that she befriended, living with her Aunt and Uncle after her Mama was in jail, and getting her first period. I did enjoy reading this book, and it did tug on my heartstrings to ...more
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Appalachian Leaves: Child of the Mountains 1 12 Aug 12, 2012 10:51AM  
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Marilyn Sue Shank earned her PhD in special education from the University of Kansas, where she majored in learning disabilities and behavior disorders and minored in counseling psychology and families with disabilities. She has taught general and special education at the elementary, secondary, and college levels.

Marilyn’s work has been published in journals, and she coauthored the first four editi
More about Marilyn Sue Shank...

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“We always been rich, Lydia. We just ain't had much money.” 0 likes
“Gran always said our West Virginia mountains is like the bosom of the Almighty, keeping us protected and still in Him.” 0 likes
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