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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Review: The Girl From Felony Bay by J.E. Thompson

You can check out my fun interview with author J.E. Thompson here

The Girl From Felony Bay
by J.E. Thompson
Walden Pond Press
Purchase: Amazon / B&N
The last year has been rougher than sandpaper for Abbey Force and her dad. He's in a coma after his accident a year back, wherein he was framed for a terrible crime he didn't commit. And their home, Reward Plantation, an idyllic spot on the eastern coast of South Carolina, had to be sold to pay off his debt to society. Abbey is stuck living with her uncle Charlie, who, even in the few hours a day when he's sober, ain't exactly your ideal parental role model.
But it turns out the new family that moved into Abbey's old house has a daughter named Bee. And she's just as curious about all the No Trespassing signs and holes being dug out by Felony Bay, in the corner of what used to be Abbey's home. It appears someone's been poking around a mystery that dates all the way back to the Civil War--and it just might be the same someone who framed Abbey's dad.
Fresh, funny, and heartwarming, Girl from Felony Bay is the perfect book for fans of Rebecca Stead's Liar & Spy and Sheila Turnage's Three Times Lucky.

J.E. Thompson's The Girl From Felony Bay is a wonderful middle-grade debut that is chock full of mystery, adventure, and southern charm.

The Girl From Felony Bay tells the story of one summer that changes the lives of two twelve year old girls forever. Abbey Force has had a lousy year: her father is in a coma and has been accused of a terrible crime, Abbey has had to move in with her mean aunt and uncle, leaving her beloved school behind, and the Force family home has had to be sold. Bee Force (no real relation) has just moved into Abbey's hold home, and carries both physical and emotional scars. The two girls become fast friends, and when Felony Bay, a secluded area of land on the Force property, is suddenly closed off and mysterious digging takes place on the land, Abbey and Bee set out to solve the mystery, but find themselves face to face with criminals, betrayal, and a hungry alligator!

Thompson has crafted a well-written middle-grade contemporary full of a lot of fun, wit, and heart. The Girl From Felony Bay offers up two delightful young heroines, a rich and charming setting, and a heart-felt story about family, friendship, and love.

I really enjoyed embarking on this fast-paced and exciting mystery-adventure with Abbey and Bee! Thompson writes with that captivating sparkle and shine, that is equal parts clever, funny, and relatable, and is so important in middle-grade fiction. Young readers will easily be swept into the thrilling adventure-mystery that Abbey and Bee stumble upon, and like the two heroines, readers will love feeling like detectives, searching for and solving clues. The mystery storyline is unpredictable enough to keep readers enthralled, but simple enough for even younger readers to follow. But the story isn't all adventure and mystery solving...Thompson explores some very relatable and poignant issues (such as grief, racism, and abuse) as well, and does so in age-appropriate ways.

The Girl From Felony Bay is set in a semi-fictional part of a very real Charleston, SC. This is a city that I know very well and love, and Thompson has done it absolute justice! Richly and vividly detailed, this southern city comes alive within the pages, and is dripping with charm and quaintness that the author captures so well. Charleston feels like another integral and fully realized character that readers will be eager to meet (if you've never visited this city, you really should. It's an awesome place!).

The two unrelated Force girls make for two very different, but equally lovable, heroines. I love Abbey's determination and intelligence, and Bee's fearlessness and loyalty. These are two heroines that readers will want to root for and be best friends with. And the friendship and genuine sisterly love that blossoms between them is so beautiful and heartwarming.

MY FINAL THOUGHTS: The Girl From Felony Bay was a complete joy to read! I adored the two young heroines, was enthralled and entertained by the mystery-adventure story, and dazzled by the well-developed setting. 


J.E Thompson
John Thompson spent twenty-five years as an investment banker before becoming a full time writer of adult thrillers and middle grade fiction. His adult novels have won significant critical acclaim (Finalist for Best Fiction by the Southern Independent Booksellers and Independent Publishers Gold Medal for Best Thriller of the Year). They include: The Brent Lucas Series (Armageddon Conspiracy, The Hong Kong Deception, The Baghdad Vendetta (coming September 15, 2012) and Salem VI: Rebecca’s Rising co-authored with Jack Heath.Written under the name JE Thompson, his first middle grade novel, The Girl From Felony Bay, will be released in April 2013 by HarperCollins/Walden Pond Press.When he is not writing he enjoys the outdoors in all forms: fly fishing, biking, bird hunting, golf and tennis. He lives with his wife and daughter as well as his Boykin Spaniel (Lulu) and his Jack Russell (Mr. Bean) and spends his time between homes in Charleston, SC and Hawley, PA.In Charleston he is something of a self-professed do-gooder and has served on a number of boards focusing on education, health care and the environment.

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