Looking for a quick read with a lot of heart? Check out this wonderful novel about a small-town, apple-picking, persistent high school journalist from the author of Rules of the Road and Hope Was Here.
The Basics: When rumors of a haunted house and prowling ghost flip a small Hudson Valley town on its head, fearless high school journalist Hildy Biddle is determined to fight the hysteria and search for the truth.
The Good: Hildy is a steadfast, determined character who leads a cast of small-town apple growers, teachers, crooked businessmen, and high school journalists. Bauer’s simple but effective writing style captures how a tight-knit community interacts, both in how close relationships are and how quickly fear and hysteria can spread. Outside of the story Hildy is pursuing, Peeled also delves into her personal relationships, her interactions with her family, and how she found herself again after her dad passed away.
The Meh: A breakthrough in the story does come from a contrived coincidence when Hildy’s old babysitter gives the high school journalists a critical piece of the puzzle. Contrived coincidences sometimes feel like the easy way out, though the rest of the novel is charming enough that it doesn’t fully detract from the story.
The Take: Peeled is one of six books I’ve read more than twice. It’s a breeze to read, thanks to Bauer’s quick writing style, and perfect for fans of small towns, books about high school journalists, and stories with a lot of heart.