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Review: Echo Mountain

Echo Mountain

Title: Echo Mountain
Author: Lauren Wolk
Genre: Middle Grade, Historical Fiction
Page Count: 368
Published by: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Date Published: April 21, 2020
You can find it here: Bookshop.org


When Ellie’s family loses almost everything in the Great Depression, they move to an untamed section of mountainous forest known as Echo Mountain. But being thrust into the harsh realities of having to build everything from practically nothing (shelter, food, clothing, tools), is something Ellie and her father take to wholeheartedly. In fact, Ellie loves her new mountain life. She loves plants, she loves helping her father, she loves learning about this environment and feels a great connection to the plants, animals and land.

But when her father is accidentally hurt and falls into a coma, her mother and sister blame Ellie for his accident. Determined to find a cure, Ellie turns to the environment she loves, testing out various concoctions and home remedies on her father. Her quest eventually leads her to the “old hag” higher up the mountain, who shares a similar penchant for the environment and healing.

Together, along with a new friend who has been leaving little “gifts” for Ellie, they will discover new methods and pathways to healing, forgiveness and the discovery of your true self.


There hasn’t been a middle grade I’ve read with my daughter that so thoroughly encapsulates a sense of place as much as Lauren Wolk’s Echo Mountain. The quiet description, the patient prose, and Lauren Wolk’s obvious extensive knowledge of both the environment and Great Depression-era realities, combine to create a read with incredibly vivid world building.

While it is slowly paced and quiet, there is a continuing, driving sense of immediacy and danger that keeps the pages turning. Lauren Wolk’s delicious prose often takes on poetic phrasing, that at times can be a bit confusing for a very young reader, but is mostly just languid and comforting.

Ellie is a phenomenal character of determination, grit, honesty, and strong sense of self. Her journey at times is lonely and uncertain and is something many readers can identify with. Ultimately a hopeful and tender story, with a speck of the supernatural, Echo Mountain is a treasure and definitely one of our favourite middle grades of 2020.

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