For 16-year-old Thankful Curtis, Bright Island contains everything a young girl needs: sunshine, the beach, farmland and family. Even her late grandfather remains part of her beloved home off the coast of Maine. When her four sisters-in-law conspire to enroll her in school on the mainland, Thankful balks. Her mother has taught her well; why does she need school? Her father explains that Gramp left money for Thankful’s education, so off she goes.
Adjusting to town life and the drama of adolescent relationships proves more challenging than any of Thankful’s classes. Gossip, social cliques and the intrigue of teen romance compound her homesickness. Pride triumphs in the end, though, and Thankful decides to show that she is up to the task.
Young teens will discover that they have much in common with the youth in Mabel Robinson’s 1938 Newbery Honor book. A typical 16-year-old, Thankful experiences many of the social pressures that adolescents face today and demonstrates how to maintain her principles in the process. Robinson’s modern writing style and realistic characters make Bright Island a timeless story that will continue to appeal to early teen readers.
Jennifer Minicus is a mother and teacher currently living in Ridgewood, NJ.