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Reviewed by Paul F. Murray for Readers' Favorite
Ashes at Grumble Bluff by Karen Bessey Pease is exciting reading for all ages, but particularly for the adolescent through young adult crowd. The novel keeps readers continually turning the pages to see what happens next to the main characters, Katherine Anne Kirby and Greta Rommel. These two best buddies in their early teens support and defend one another as they fend off bullies and seek to assist other kids who have been bullied. Greta has recently lost her father, Billy, to AIDS, and Billy’s parents, known primarily as Gram and Gramps, work hard with the assistance of a friendly judge to secure custody of Greta. Greta’s mother, whom she hasn’t seen in ten years, ran off with another man and now has two stepchildren to care for. But Greta’s mother suddenly appears in Greta’s life again, ostensibly to reconnect, but, more likely — Katherine Anne surmises — to grab the inheritance that Greta may be receiving from Billy. Greta desperately wants to stay in Grumble Bluff, Maine, while her estranged mother, Pamela, wants to keep her in New York City. It’s riveting to see how all this works out.
Ashes at Grumble Bluff by Karen Bessey Pease is extremely well written, with suspense right from the first page onward. Katherine Anne is the viewpoint character throughout, and she and Greta are unquestionably the two main characters, with whom other characters interact. Readers will readily see the interrelationships, as this is an easy-to-follow novel, without 15-20 main characters battling each other for viewpoint time and readers’ attention. The grammar is flawless, making for smooth reading throughout. Karen Bessey Pease is an author who knows her craft, and readers of young adult fiction will delight in getting to know Katherine Anne and Greta. A very well-written novel by an author who takes her work seriously. Nice and refreshing!!