islands, emotional abuse, and terrifying adults: just a li’l old middle grade novel

Again I went to NetGalley and requested a book that I thought meant that one of my favorite nineties authors was coming back, only to find out it was a reissue. Thankfully, though, this one doesn’t seem to have random cell phone references thrown in, so it still works. It’s Fog by Caroline B. Cooney, of The Face on the Milk Carton awesomeness. I guess they wanted new reviews to celebrate that they were putting it back “in print” by making a Kindle edition of the book (and also packaging it and its two sequels into one paperback).

So I had no idea what the plot of this book was, and I didn’t care. I wanted to read it solely because the author wrote awesome books that I read as a kid. I think they were supposed to be YA back then, but I’m pretty sure you’d find the Janie books in the children’s section now, and you would definitely find this one, even though as thrillers go, it’s a little disturbing and made me quite angry because I couldn’t quite grasp what I was supposed to think about it.

So the story is about Christina Romney (yeah, that’s unfortunately timed, publishers–maybe you should have made one eensy weensy change), who has grown up on Burning Fog Island, off of Maine, and is starting seventh grade. This means that she has to go to the mainland and board there, because the island school can’t teach older kids because, well, it’s a tiny school on a tiny island, so duh, I guess. So she and three other kids, all of whom are older, so they’ve already gone to school there, head to the mainland to live with the Shevvingtons, these people who own a new inn. They’re also the school principal and the English teacher.

One of the other kids is Anya, a high school senior who is freaky and weird and talks in poems. She’s terrified of the ocean and is convinced that it’s trying to claim her. So there’s that. And then there’s Christina, who’s trying to keep it together but keeps getting caught in situations that are read in a different way than they happen. And then Mr. and Mrs. Shevvington convince everyone that Christina is cray cray, and they basically start emotionally torturing and abusing her, telling her she has emotional problems and needs a counselor; telling the seventh grade class that Christina is poor and yet also scamming off of welfare; calling her parents and telling them that their little girl is so awful that they should withhold their love and not let her call them or visit; etc etc. Horrifying. Makes for a thriller, I guess, but sometimes it was too much to handle, and I can’t tell if it was because it was super cruel or just because the way they would say it just seemed so unnatural in speech (e.g. “Christina, you have emotional problems” point blank–wha?).

Anyway, things take a turn for the supernatural, and it gets kind of interesting, and then it ends (it’s nice when trilogy installments still have endings, like books) with a nod to the next creepy installment. I’m not sure if I’m going to read the next two books just because this one took a lot out of me, but I think if you like thrillers, this is a unique one. I’m still not sure what to make of it, though.

(Bee tee dubs, there is a new installment to the Janie series coming soon, and you can pre-order it.)

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2 thoughts on “islands, emotional abuse, and terrifying adults: just a li’l old middle grade novel

  1. Wow, this sounds intense. I remember enjoying Caroline Cooney back in the day, but it’s interesting to think about how her books compare to current ones.

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