The heroine of Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms is a girl named Will Silver (full name Wilhelmina, don't dare call her Wilhelmina though!). Will loves living on a farm in Zimbabwe. Her father doesn't own the farm--Captain Browne does--but he manages it. She can't remember her mother, but, life there with her father and her friends (mostly farm workers and local boys) and her animals is near perfect. Until her father dies from malaria. Just like her mother.
After his death, Captain Browne is her legal guardian. The problem? Well, this older gentlemen has fallen head over heels in love with a horrible woman with an evil plan. At least that's how Will sees it. Will soon finds herself heading off to England and boarding school. The situation seems bleak. And it is. And I think that's one reason why I didn't exactly love Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms. It is a bleak middle grade read with little hope. I like hope. I need hope. Will finds herself in dozens of desperate situations, and, it doesn't get better, it just ends. True to life? Probably. Is it important to be true to life and authentic? Sure.
Will is displaced. She's out of her element in England and at school. She's never interacted with girls her own age. She's never formally attended school. She's never had to follow rules. So she struggles with EVERYTHING. For example, she struggles with the concept of staying inside, staying inside classrooms and buildings during school, of staying in her room at night and sleeping. She can't understand why no one will let her sleep outside wherever she wants whenever she wants. She can't understand why no one wants to be near her despite the fact that she hasn't changed clothes or taken a bath or washed her hair or even brushed her hair in three weeks or so. She gets angry when people tell her to use a fork and knife to eat. So it's an understatement to say she's out of her element.
The book is interesting enough, I suppose. But I didn't really enjoy it very much.
© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews