I don’t do a ton of book reviews, but when I got this pitch for Avenging the Owl, it caught my eye:
AVENGING THE OWL by Melissa Hart deals with the difficult issues of suicide and depression, but more than anything it captures the powerlessness of being a kid when a young boy is labeled an at risk youth after accidentally injuring a neighbor boy.
My family has dealt with its share of depression and anxiety, and I thought this might be a great little summertime read for my middle school-age kiddos. How often do we all feel powerless when life throws us a curveball? It’s hard enough for us as adults, but often seems hopeless when you’re a kid.
In this story, a teenage boy named Solo has to deal with a crisis in his family, when his father attempts suicide. In the aftermath, they try to cope with his father’s depression by uprooting everyone and moving from California to Oregon. Solo ends up getting a sweet little kitten to care for, which is the only thing that brightens up his grim days – until he watches it get snatched up and carried off by an owl. He tries to save his kitten’s life, but ends up getting into serious trouble. All of this results in Solo spending his summer working at a raptor rehabilitation center. Solo processes all of his daily woes by writing them out as scenes from a screenplay, while befriending the boy next door who has Down syndrome. We get to follow along as Solo figures out how to deal with life.
I read this over a couple of days at the pool and I loved it. As the mom of a kid with special needs, I loved seeing the relationship building between Solo and the boy next door. The gradual shift from annoyance to acceptance to real friendship was pretty close to how things play out in real life. And I loved Solo’s interactions with the staff at the raptor center – how they all ended up getting to know one another and build empathy and understanding. All in all, a pretty great book for the middle schoolers – but I definitely enjoyed it as well! Pick up Avenging the Owl for your summer reading list!
Disclosure: Sky Horse Publishing sent me this book in exchange for my review. Opinions are my own, based on my interpretation of the book. This post contains affiliate links.