S for sister and B for brother. M for mom, and D For dad. F for family, and W for wish. Hollis Woods is a headstrong, smart, and talented girl. She is an orphan, and she is constantly running away from her foster homes. This realistic-fiction story goes back and forth between the pictures Hollis draws of her memories, and real life events almost 1 year later. Hollis usually only stays at a foster home for a few weeks at a time, but one of her foster families is different… the Reagans: Izzy, The Old Man, and Steven. Hollis stays with them for a whole summer in their house in Branches, where she finally feels that she belongs. But, a tragic event happens, and Hollis runs away from the only family she’s ever known. Now, she lives with Josie, a retired art teacher with a secret. As she gets to know Josie more and more, Hollis realizes that she has to stay with Josie and help her keep her secret.
While Hollis is staying with Josie, she finds out a little bit more about her. Josie carves people out of wood, she has a fiesty cat named Henry, and she has a cousin named Beatrice. When Beatrice visits New Mexico, Hollis stays with Josie. But, when the lady from the foster home finds out about Josie’s secret, she makes it her number one priority to remove Hollis from Josie’s care. Then, Hollis has to make the decision to stay with Josie, or run away from her problems.
I can relate to Hollis because I loved my old school. It was my favorite out of all of the ones I’ve been to. But, my dad lost his job and since he didn’t work there anymore, I had to go to public school. Most of my friends went there, so I was kind of excited. Now I love my new school, and if I had the choice to back to my old school, I would probably say no. Public school is much closer and cheaper for my family anyway.
I love this book because I like how Patricia Reilly Giff goes back and forth between real life, and Hollis’s pictures. It’s hard to imagine how Hollis just runs away from her foster homes without a trace. Even if they weren’t my real family, I still would stay with them. Hollis must really feel alone and scared. I mean, how would you feel if you had to sleep under the boardwalk sometimes! My favorite part of the book was at the end, when everything comes together. But, then again, that’s probably the best part of most stories!
All in all, I give this book 4¾ stars out of 5. The book was amazing, but some parts were confusing, and weren’t explained at the end. Other than that, the book was filled with suspense and mystery. It displayed many examples of foreshadowing, so you have to look at the little details. If you would get confused going back and forth in time, this book may not be for you. In my opinion, the theme of this book was not to run away from your problems, but to face them head-on. Sometimes you will go through rough times in life, but in the end you will work it all out if you persevere.
Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff. Yearling Books, 2004. Buy the book here and support Stone Soup in the process!
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