I’m very excited to be a part of the tour for The Wild Path by Sarah R. Baughman that is being hosted by TBR and Beyond Tours! I’m always on the lookout for new middle grade books to add to my personal library for when my kids are older and this is one that I was definitely excited for.
ABOUT THE BOOK
TITLE: The Wild Path
AUTHOR: Sarah R. Baughman
GENRE: Middle Grade Contemporary/Mystery
PUBLICATION DATE: September 1, 2020
RATING: 4/5 stars
The Line Tender meets The Secret Horses of Briar Hill in this hopeful, heartfelt story about one girl’s search for legendary horses and her quest to piece her family back together.
Twelve-year-old Claire Barton doesn’t like the “flutter feeling” that fills her chest when she worries about the future, but she knows what she loves: the land that’s been in her family for three generations; her best friend Maya; her family’s horses, Sunny and Sam; and her older brother Andy. That’s why, with Andy recently sent to rehab after a DUI, and her parents planning to sell the horses, Claire’s world feels like it might flutter to pieces.
When Claire learns about equine therapy, she imagines a less lonely future that keeps her family together, brother and horses included. But, when she finds mysterious wild horses in the woods behind her house, she realizes she has a bit more company than she bargained for. With this new secret-and a little bit of luck-Claire will discover the beauty of change, the power of family, and the strength within herself.
I received my copy of the book as an advanced copy and it came with a letter from the author as well. I really appreciated this as it gave a little insight on why she wrote the book and how The Wild Path contains traces of her own experiences. This was my first exposure to some of the topics that The Wild Path would contain. I definitely appreciated this as some of the topics are some that are battles of family members and as a result, things that affect my life in some ways.
I don’t typically think of trigger or content warnings for middle grade books, but in this case I do want to mention that The Wild Path deals with addiction and also anxiety.
I was very excited for this book from the beginning and I’m so glad I got the chance to read it. If you’ve read some of my reviews in the past, you know that I typically like to go into a book without knowing much about it. The same goes for this one. I skimmed the synopsis one time and then didn’t look more into it after that. Like I previously mentioned, I’m always on the hunt for new middle grade to add to my personal library for my children to have access to when they’re older. While at five and seven, they may not be ready for it now, they will be in the near future and I always hope to have options for them when it comes to books.
“I do like the idea of a way out. A path I could find, made just for me.”
I was definitely intrigued about this one from the beginning. From the note from the author I knew the book was going to deal with anxiety and addiction, but I didn’t know what the person was addicted to and things like that. I was curious how far it would delve into these topics with being a middle grade and that’s definitely what kept me reading for the first little bit. Once I got more into it, I fell in love with the writing style and was so curious about the little mystery that started becoming prevalent throughout the book.
I thought The Wild Path dealt with these “tough” topics so well! Unfortunately many kids in this age range know someone who is battling some form of addiction. It’s personally been something I’ve heard about since I was in the middle grade age range because of family members who were addicted to something. I definitely don’t think I grasped it like Claire did in any sort of way, but I also wasn’t actively seeking out books at that time that dealt with those topics. I really appreciated that this didn’t show a family going back to “normal” and instead showed them grasping at finding their new normal and how they all handle the situation.
Another aspect of this story that was a pretty big part of it was Claire’s anxiety. While not out right stated throughout the book, it is mention that Claire has these fluttery feelings. These moments are referred to as sparrows and I thought this was an interesting way to explain this feeling to younger readers. The book also takes the time to showcase the different ways Claire tries to cope with these feelings.
“I hear the sparrows’ fluttering wings above me before I feel them swoop inside. But I close my eyes and breathe. Filling my lungs with air seems to push the sparrows away.”
Along with the tough topics and the mystery, there’s a great plot line of Claire learning about equine therapy. While I knew a little about horses, it was very interesting to learn a little more about them and how they can help people.
There is a great cast of side characters in here as well. Not only do we have Claire’s family, but we also have her friend Maya, the support group that Claire goes to, and Mr. Hamilton, who ends up being a really amazing character that I was always excited to have in a chapter. The support group portions were really great as well! I’m really glad they were included and that it makes it clear that addiction isn’t their fault and that they can’t change anything. Such an important lesson and I definitely think the book would have been lacking if it wasn’t included.
I definitely think this is an amazing story and will be one I share with my kids when they’re older. It does a great job of showing how a family deals with addiction and how animals help us. I can’t wait to read more from this author in the future as well!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sarah R. Baughman is an author whose debut middle grade novel, THE LIGHT IN THE LAKE, is forthcoming from Little, Brown Books For Young Readers in 2019. A former middle and high school English teacher currently working as an educational consultant, Sarah graduated from Grinnell College and the University of Michigan, where she studied English, German, and Education. Sarah is represented by Katie Grimm at Don Congdon Associates. When she’s not writing, she’s probably reading, running, or getting outdoors with her family.
Giveaway (US Only)
During this tour there’s a chance for US readers to win a finished copy of The Wild Path. The giveaway is open until September 22nd. Click here to enter.