The new Pumpkin Falls mystery, Yours Truly by Heather Vogel Frederick is out, and one of my colleagues snatched it up for me because she knew how much I enjoyed the first one, Absolutely Truly.
Truly Lovejoy feels like she’s finally fitting in in Pumpkin Falls. She’s coming out of “stealth mode,” she’s made some friends, and she’s found a boy she likes. But when her cousin and best friend, Mackenzie, comes out for spring break to celebrate Truly’s birthday, everything falls apart. Mackenzie is everything Truly feels she’s not. Mackenzie is pretty and petite, while Truly feels gawky and way too tall (she’s six feet.) All the boys like Mackenzie and the only boy Truly likes suddenly refuses to notice her.
It’s sugaring time on the maple farms around Pumpkin Falls, and the farmers start to discover that their operations have been sabotaged. Neighbors starts blaming neighbor, and the feuding divides the town. Truly and her friends begin to investigate. Then another mystery pops up in Truly’s own house. The girls discover an old diary that may lead them to a stop on the Underground Railroad. Will Truly have the courage and tenacity to overcome the obstacles in her life, just like her namesake from the Civil War?
It had been long enough since I read Absolutely Truly that I had forgotten why I really enjoyed it—I just remembered that I had. Now I remember why. Ms. Frederick really understands the young teen mind. I felt like she could have been writing about me at that age: the desire to be noticed while fearing standing out and being different; loving your siblings while you want them to disappear; craving female companionship while competing with your female friends.
Gosh, I don’t miss it.
But Ms. Frederick writes it so well. I would absolutely put this series into the hands of 4-6 graders who enjoy a good mystery. It’s Nancy Drew clean, and feels like it could happen to anyone. There’s just enough romance in it to sweeten it without become cloying.