Recommended for: Middle Grade Readers
Thank you Netgalley, Algonquin Young Readers, and Karen Rivers for selecting me to read and review a digital ARC of this book.
“I thought I was going to be someone different here in Texas. I thought I was going to be someone tough and happy and sparkly and untouchable, like they are. I thought I could do that, just start over in a different way. I was wrong.” --The Girl in the Well is Me
This story literally throws you right into the well from the moment it begins. Our sweet main character, Kammie, is stuck in a well after trying to make friends with the popular girls. Kammie is the new girl and wants to make a different life for herself. She wants to start over and be someone different in her new school. To do that, she thinks she must be friends with the popular girls. Mandy, Kandy, and Sandy are those popular girls, and they tell Kammie she can be one of them if she completes initiation. Kammie agrees and ends up in a well. As we hear Kammie’s tale we quickly see that this terrible trio never had any intention of accepting Kammie.
Through Kammie’s memories, panic, and hallucinations, we come to hear the whole tale of Kammie’s tragic move to Texas and how she comes to be stuck in the well. Her voice brought me in from the very start, and had me cracking up at multiple times throughout. The author’s portrayal of Kammie’s thoughts was brilliant and endearing. She rambles, flits from one thing to another, panics, calms herself, and jumps right into the next crazy random thought. Sometimes her thoughts move so fast, you get a little lost. But when I think about how our minds actually work and process thoughts, her writing of Kammie’s thoughts is spot on with how we actually think. Rivers’ use of Kammies memories as the vehicle to tell her tale is well done and creates a connection to the protagonist and her strife.
As for the terrible "–andy" trio, they are HORRIBLE. Even during the moments when you expect them to snap out of the mean girl side and realize that an actual life is at stake, they still continue to be selfish, cruel and careless. The depth of bullying is astonishing and I almost felt I had to detach from the intensity of it in order to enjoy Kammie and her thoughts.
I wish there would have been a bit more of a consequence or comeuppance for our terrible trio, but I felt somewhat satisfied with how the story wraps up. Rivers does a nice job of showing the gravity of the bullying and situation, but doing it with enough humor light-heartedness to keep the reader from becoming upset or terribly overwhelmed by the depth of the bullying. Overall, it was a decent story, it was a quick read, and Kammie was a sweet voice for the story and someone you want to cheer for.