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Child of the Mountains

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  640 ratings  ·  130 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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Average rating 4.04  · 
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Feb 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Cara by: Valerie
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
Jan 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Tara Mickela
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,
Joann Ranson
Aug 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed and could not put it down. until I finished.
May 29, 2012 rated it liked it
[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
Susan Hatch
Feb 15, 2015 rated it liked it

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
Jul 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Courtney Goldbeck
Oct 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Jody Phillips
Jun 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This novel is both touching and endearing. Getting into the mountain dialect took a chapter or two, but the story, with it's twists and turns was worth the effort. The protagonist, Lydia, is engaging and following her thought process was illuminating. She shows the character of mountain folk - their strengths and weaknesses as well as their gritty survival.

A strong theme for the book is the notion that true wealth comes with the love of family and the simple pleasures of family life. Family cre
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.
Oh, this was wonderful.

Highly recommend it for anyone who enjoyed Kira Kira; similar kind of feel there about family and finding one's place in the world.

Beautiful story, excellent characters (Lydia is a sweetheart and I adore her), and a wonderful message.
Sep 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Amazing book. Much like Room, it took me awhile to get past the dialect, but I'm so glad I stuck with it - this story will stick with me for a long time.
Nov 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
The whole thing was pretty good, the suspense of finding out the past story and resolving the current one was intense.

But that’s what killed it - the entire book was building up to the big court scene and I was really excited for it, and then... they completely skipped it.
I turned the page expecting a climax and instead got an epilogue.

Also, I found this book in the children’s section of my library, but I am very glad I didn’t read this as a child because I would have been extremely confused.
Aug 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: gs-library
This book is about a girl who loses her family, one by one, and has to move in with her silly aunt and closed-off uncle, and try and figure out a plan for getting her beloved Mama out of jail for a crime she didn't commit.
This book is really colourful, and at times I found myself slipping into the West Virginian accent that they constantly use throughout the book in my everyday life, and I really felt at times that I was right there beside Lydia when she brought her brother home from the hospit
Jun 19, 2017 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Heart touching

This story grabbed my heart from the beginning page! The author has an uncanny ability to pull you into the hills of West Virginia allowing one to feel as if they literally stepped into the lives of the characters. I read the book in one sitting because I had to know how Lydia's story would ultimately end. Thing is the ending seemed more like a New beginning for everyone involved including Ears. I hope to read more from this author. Another amazing book provided by my local library
May 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 13, 2017 rated it liked it
I'm getting ready for a trip to the Smokies, so I wanted to read something set in the mountains. While this was set in West Virginia, it still fit the bill. The book had good heart, and I loved the family relationships -- they seemed authentic. For whatever reason, I didn't connect with the characters the way I wished to. It wasn't a "must read" for me that marks a great book, but the themes and narrative made it a solid choice.
I quite enjoyed this. Lydia is a sympathetic and endearing protagonist and the story is interesting. This is one book written in a dialect which I didn't mind. Bonus points for a junior book with complex and helpful adults.
Apr 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is a real tearjerker (is that how you spell it?). I love it, though, and recommend to anyone who doesn't mind a sad story. It seems so true and believable.
Michelle Isenhoff
Sep 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone, middle school age
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
Sep 22, 2012 rated it really liked it

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
Apr 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle-grade, 2012
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
Dec 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mark Lynn
Jul 14, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Jul 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
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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

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