Author: Helen Frost
Reviewed by: Jackie Flowers
As a library user, I cannot control when my holds arrive at my branch but I sometimes feel like a magical force brings them to me when I need them most. “Diamond Willow” was a book that arrived at just the right time – it is full of hidden beauty that I needed to be reminded of.
The story is about a girl named Diamond Willow who lives with her family in the interior of Alaska, isolated from the outside world during the winter months. Lack of roads, mechanics’ skills and supplies during these cold, snowy seasons means that dog sledding remains an important mode of transportation.
Diamond Willow is a twelve year old girl who feels insignificant. It’s not easy for her to make friends at her school and she’s on the verge of losing her best friend to a boyfriend. The story unfolds during the winter season when Willow convinces her parents to let her take the dog sled to her grandparents home, 12 miles away, alone. But her first step towards independence are not without challenges.
The plot of this story is a little thin but the ideas about family, heritage, nature and self-discovery are so beautifully constructed. You finish this book feeling warmed inside.
Diamond willow is a type of tree found in Alaska and its significance to the story and the girl, Diamond Willow, unfolds throughout the story. And did I mention that each page is a diamond-shaped poem that reads like prose? Read it, please!