The Wrong Way Home

Knopf. Apr. 2024. 336p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780593650738.
Gr 3-7–Twelve-year-old Fern’s life takes a sharp turn when she and her mother sneak out of the Ranch, an off-the-grid farm in New York that has been her home for the last six years. Even though the ranch might be considered a cult and her mom says its leader Dr. Ben is dangerous, it’s the home that Fern remembers most. The two escape to Driftaway Beach, CA, living in a motel where her mother works. When Fern becomes desperate to return to the only life she knows, she makes a long-term plan to return to the Ranch. But as time goes on Fern finds friendship in Eddie and Babs. She discovers that she loves science and learning about new things. Now that she has a taste for this world, she is conflicted when she thinks about returning home. This coming-of-age story centers a girl trying to decide what is right as she struggles to change from one culture to another. The first-person narrative is believable and thought-provoking as Fern reconsiders everything she’s thought to be true.
VERDICT A unique story and welcome addition to the library for fans of contemporary middle grade fiction.

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